September 1, 2009 / 3:15 PM / 8 years ago

Lobby group calls for global rules on energy trade

LONDON (Reuters) - Global rules on trade and investment in energy and energy services are needed urgently ahead of negotiations on a convention on climate change in Copenhagen this year, an industry body said on Tuesday.

The World Energy Council (WEC), which represents governments and energy firms in more than 90 countries, said restrictions and border tariffs were a growing problem as governments tried to cut the production of greenhouse gases and coped with the effects of slower economic growth.

In particular, the WEC is concerned about the imposition of "Border Tax Adjustments" (BTAs) -- import taxes on carbon-intensive goods from countries that do not have tough or comparable carbon reduction laws.

Many governments are considering BTAs on imported goods in an attempt to set a price for greenhouse gas emissions and ensure that products from different parts of the world charge for carbon on a similar basis.

The WEC is worried that there is no overall framework for agreeing import tariffs and suggests the system could be used to restrict trade unfairly.

"There is a gap in the system," said Timothy Richards, head of international energy policy at General Electric in Washington. "We need international agreements on global energy trade and investment and consistent rules."

The WEC also called for international agreements governing energy services, which would cover industries such as upstream oil and gas.

Reporting by Christopher Johnson

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