HONOLULU Asia Pacific business executives will urge U.S. President Barack Obama and other leaders meeting this week to start talks on a trade agreement to tackle global environmental woes, the chair of a private sector advisory group said on Tuesday.
"It's something that's going to be needed for the planet and every economy is going to have start looking at how we all work together to produce goods and services that are a little bit more environmentally friendly," said Deb Henretta, this year's chair of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).
The 63-member council includes three business representatives from each of the 21 member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and Canada are other leading APEC members.
The group will meet on Sunday with Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao and other leaders here to discuss their recommendations for improving business conditions in the region.
Those include addressing tariff and nontariff barriers to trade in environmental goods and services, reducing regulatory barriers to trade, enhancing cooperation on food, energy and water security and adopting policies to encourage more small and medium-sized enterprises to export, she said.
The United States wants APEC leaders to pledge to cut tariffs on environmental goods such as solar panels, wind and hydraulic turbines, air pollution filters and sewage treatment pumps to 5 percent.
The Obama administration also wants the leaders to agree to address regulatory barriers that hamper trade in sectors such as air pollution control, sewage treatment, solid and hazardous waste management, nature and landscape protection and noise pollution control.
China has criticized the tariff proposal as one-sided since U.S. tariffs are already low and developing countries such as itself would have to make the most cuts.
A U.S. official said APEC members had a "useful and productive discussion" about the proposal on Tuesday and would continue the talks on Wednesday.
Henretta, who also is Procter & Gamble's group president for Asia, said there was "pretty broad support" in Asia Pacific business community for some type of environmental goods and services pact.
"What's going to take time is the specifics of what that agreement looks like. How are we going to define environmental goods and services and how are we going to set some measurable goals," Henretta said.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Stella Dawson and Eric Walsh)