Prepared by the United States, Canada and New Zealand
An information-sharing community dedicated to the facilitation and promotion of trade and commerce in environmental goods and services in the APEC region.
This document summarizes the benefits and potential features of an APEC Environmental Goods and Services Information Exchange (EGSIE) website. It provides a framework for evaluating the sample working website at http://egs.apec.org/, which we hope that delegates will have a chance to visit prior to the MAG 2 meeting. The sample working website, along with this paper, are intended to help explain how information could be accessed and cross-referenced across different sources and configurations. The content of the website is purely illustrative, and not all of the links work. It is designed to give delegates a more tangible feel for our proposal, and to provide a basis for inviting input. Finally, this paper provides some basic information of the likely resource requirements to build and maintain EGSIE, if endorsed. We welcome comments from delegates on how we can make this the most effective information sharing tool, and hereby propose that that this project be endorsed by MAG2 and added to the EGS work program.
At the MAG 2 in May 2008, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States tabled a "Preliminary Thoughts" paper on a potential APEC environmental goods and services (EGS) database. Helpful feedback was received from economies, and further thought was given to the development of an appropriate tool for exchanging information and promoting the liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services amongst APEC economies. In an attempt to address delegations' comments and concerns, and provide a more concrete platform for future discussion, we committed to develop a mock-up version of the information exchange tool for discussion at MAG 2.
If endorsed, the EGSIE has the potential to be a critical project in APEC's EGS work programme. It overlaps, informs, highlights and is designed to incorporate the outcomes of other APEC projects currently proposed, such as the proposals (if endorsed) to study barriers and impediments to trade in EGS, the study on developing good regulatory practice for EGS, and workshops which promote engagement with business. It should be viewed as a living, evolving tool, reflective of the nature and environment of EGS. This tool can help build an information sharing community around these issues and the EGS work program more generally, and promote APEC's transparency goals.
Purpose of the EGSIE
The purpose of an APEC EGS Information Exchange would be to provide public and private stakeholders in APEC economies with a means to access and share the latest information, studies, projects and commitments on EGS and voluntarily exchange information on specific environmental goods and services. While no universally agreed definition for what constitutes an environmental good or service currently exists, a great deal of information and research is available that could potentially assist APEC economies in determining their own interests and policies, as well as developing their own EGS industries. This APEC project is intended to be collaborative and pragmatic, consistent with APEC's own approach.
Such an information exchange tool would create the "go to" source of information on EGS and render numerous trade and sustainable development-related benefits, including:
- Enhancing public and private sector knowledge and dissemination of the various EGS that are regionally available.
- Keeping APEC economies abreast of the latest EGS developments.
- Assisting APEC economies in participating in ongoing WTO initiatives.
- Identifying areas of potential regional cooperation.
- Helping APEC economies in identifying and targeting those EGS that are of export interest and/or can best assist them in their domestic sustainable development efforts.
The information included in EGSIE would draw from all relevant sources, with a primary focus on sources relevant to or generated within APEC economies. It is not intended to be a typical compartmentalized system for information collection, but rather, an entire system that is built with cross-referencing capability (depending on keyword searches).
Elements of the EGSIE
In considering the development of an environmental goods and services information exchange tool, we propose that the following basic informational elements form the foundational content of EGSIE.
Individual economy's views or proposals on environmental goods and services, or links to these: Documents detailing domestic and regional efforts to define or categorize the environmental goods and services industry; domestic and regional research guides or manuals for the environmental goods and services industry; domestic and regional reports or studies on EGS, the environmental industry, environmental markets or environmental companies. Users will be encouraged to upload similar documents from their economies. Discussions and discussion threads would be available for review and comment on major topics like the existing APEC EGS framework, new and existing APEC project proposals, etc.
Information on how/where a particular environmental good or service is used and produced: Organized by industry category and subcategory, the site would be populated with basic information on each EGS category or segment. Information could be organized by specific pieces of equipment (e.g reverse osmosis drinking water filtration) or services (e.g. landfill design and construction) and more broadly by process or result desired, integrating goods and services (timeline of a remediation project from identification and characterization, feasibility study, remedial design, remediation construction, site closure). Sample project reports, flow charts, diagrams or case studies could be used. Accredited Members of the EGSIE community could post more specific uses. All of the content can be cross-referenced easily.
Information on the environmental, developmental and other benefits that arise from environmental goods or services: Developmental benefits can be characterized drawing on existing studies from a number of governments and NGOs. Again organized by industry segment and sub-segment, the site would be populated with some basic information and easily cross-referenced.
Tariff information or links to economies' tariff schedules, such as a tariff finder tool, and links to economies' services commitments under the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS): Existing economies' tariffs schedules and GATS services schedules will be either uploaded and/or made available in some form, or links will be provided to existing tariff websites. Economies with special tariff-finder tools could provide links to those.
Information on the various market barriers that exist for environmental goods and services: Studies on market barriers to the development of EGS and EGS industries on a local, national and global level will be identified and made available, including those focused on regulations and enforcement as market drivers, on financing the development of environmental technology, on financing environmental projects in general, etc. Studies identifying the tariff and non-tariff trade barriers to the international flow of EGS will also be included. For example, we expect to make available China's study on environmental services, and Australia and Japan's study on environmental goods (if endorsed).
Information on the relationship between specific environmental goods and services: The integration of goods and services in most environmental projects provides ample examples of the relationship between specific environmental goods and services. Case study projects could be selected and narratives, diagrams or flow charts will be used to simplify the description of the process from project identification, evaluation, design, equipment specification, modification, installation and operation.
Information on businesses in the APEC region involved in consuming/producing/delivering EGS: Economies, provinces, states, and international economic regions each have undertaken individual efforts to research and accumulate directories of providers of EGS. These directories could be aggregated and re-formatted into a consistent structure allowing some measure of uniform classification and consistent presentation. Entry screens could be structured to allow individual companies to make entries into the EGS provider database and for economic development officers, government officials or trade associations involved in EGS to submit directories or multiple listings of EGS companies.
Significant market opportunities in the APEC region for EGS, including major environmental projects: Listings of environmental projects are available from a variety of sources, including private sector, government at the federal, state and provincial level, international agencies like World Bank, ADB, IADB, OAS etc. These could be aggregated in a project listing library indexed by segment size and scope. There could also be an active project posting forum.
Major EGS research and development initiatives in the region: Ongoing projects with particular relevance to APEC and the region's desire for productive commerce in EGS will receive prominent attention. Links to prominent institutes and government agencies and their respective experts will also be provided, for example EGS reports and studies published by an agreed upon list of institutions such as OECD, UNCTAD, World Bank, Universities.
Export Promotion Programs in EGS: Several advanced economies have active programs to promote EGS. Profiles of these programs, their organization, history and interaction would provide useful models for transition economies in their efforts to support export activities of their own EGS companies. It would also provide a central point of reference or contact for information on EGS companies in each participating economy.
EGS Project Funding Programs: Multilateral entities like World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank provide ongoing access to funds for projects in need in the region and contract opportunities for companies and contractors across the region. Profiles of these entities and their procurement requirements and even specific projects and procurement officers could be listed. Other entities may be non-profits, foundations and other NGOs that issue requests for proposals (RFPs) for EGS-related projects. Private companies looking for projects and third parties like carbon traders or brokers developing Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) may also be attractive to EGSIE visitors.
Current Mock-Up Structure
In its current model form, every page has eight menu items across the top that users can select any time.
- Home APEC Economies
- EGS Segments
- Research Studies
Each of the eight menu items has the capability to have numerous options in the 'drop-down'. The current model has the following options with "economies," "EGS segments" and study subjects representatively 'active' given that 30 articles have been uploaded and keyworded for the demonstration model mock-up. In other words, a user can click "Consulting & Engineering" under "EGS Segments," or "EGS Definitions" under "Research Studies," and browse summaries of articles and then click to view entire article or download the file.
This structure is by no means set in stone, but evolved from the initial concept structure and subsequent additions of topics and files. Future adjustments can be made to the topic lists and keywords or categories can be added, or keywords of existing articles or files on the site can be modified. We would be particularly interested in members' views on the current structure and helpful modifications that could be made to it.
Open and Closed Websites
APEC EGS is designed to ultimately be an open system where users can freely contribute content. However, until the project is authorized and everyone is comfortable with its content, and agrees to a set of rules for quality control, it will be limited to only the content approved by APEC economies. (Quality control is needed if we want APEC EGS to be an authoritative source of information, and different rules will require different methods of implementation.) As we develop EGSIE, we can continue to review its utility, openness, content, etc.
In order to enhance participation in the information exchange, we envision that private sector stakeholders (e.g., business, NGOs) would be able to submit specific information on EGS. Stakeholders would be able to identify themselves when providing comments/information, at least by sector (e.g., NGO, academia, business), and ideally also business profile e.g. SMEs, small businesses.
Resources Required to Build and Maintain EGSIE
Building and maintaining the Environmental Goods and Services Information Exchange would require continued attention and human resources to complete the full development of the tool and ongoing technical resources for maintenance and updating. We would expect maintenance and updating to include: new EGS submissions/postings by economies; new information from stakeholders on specific EGS; updated links to new EGS papers/projects undertaken by economies, international organizations, academia, etc., including on market barriers to trade in environmental good and services; updated links to tariff schedules.
In terms of next steps, we would need to complete and upload EGSIE's content and determine hosting and other maintenance costs. We believe that it would cost approximately $30,000 in additional work to take EGSIE live. Maintenance will depend on the level of activity, updating required, etc. We are willing to take EGSIE's development in stages, and to review and consider over time what is ultimately required to support economies' needs. For example, we believe that EGSIE will initially function as an APEC registered-users-only information-sharing tool. Once economies become comfortable with its content, utility, etc., we hope that EGSIE can be expanded to allow for broader access and input. We believe that we can cover the costs of the immediate next steps and take EGSIE live in time for the APEC Leaders' meeting this year, if delegates endorse the project at MAG2.