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Carbon tarriff on imported goods 'act of protectionism'
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08:52, September 16, 2009

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Decrying calls for a carbon tax on imported goods as trade protectionism, Assistant Minister of Finance Zhu Guangyao said the Chinese government is firmly against the idea, adding that it violates World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations.

At a press conference Tuesday, Zhu and several senior officials explained China's stance on major issues such as climate change and the recovery of the economy, topics being discussed later this month in New York and at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Developed countries, such as the US and France, have threatened to levy carbon tariffs on goods imported from developing countries thought to be unequipped with stringent environmental laws.

A provision in the US Clean Energy Security Act requires the president, starting in 2020, to impose a tariff on certain goods from countries that do not act to limit their carbon emissions, which contribute significantly to global warming. The provision was passed by the US House of Representatives in June and is up for a vote by the US Senate next month.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy recently called for a European carbon tax on imported goods.

A carbon tariff would tax consumers for carbon emitted in producing goods they purchase, wherever the goods are produced.

"We hope that certain developed countries will refrain from (imposing a carbon tax) that will not benefit them and will hurt the interests of other countries," Zhu said.

The prospect of a carbon tax has prompted Chinese economists to think of countermeasures.

Fan Gang, president of the China National Economic Research Institute and a policy advisor for China's central bank, suggests the Chinese government announce a carbon tax scheme to prevent its exports to the US from being levied an environmental tariff.

The WTO doesn't allow nations to place the same type of tax on goods twice.

"If we have such a carbon tax scheme in place, at least tax revenues of exported goods can be kept in China," Fan told China Daily.

Hu's anticipated visit

As for the upcoming UN climate change summit in New York, Vice-Foreign Minister He Yafei said President Hu Jintao's visit will "inject new political momentum" in the runup to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.

An agreement is expected to be finalized that will succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which will expire in 2012 and was a historic international treaty that aimed to limit greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

Xie Zhenhua, China's top envoy in international climate change negotiations, said the president is expected to "announce the next policies, measures and actions that China is going to take" to tackle global warming.

Xie urged developed countries to drastically cut emissions because they are the source of problems during the industrialization process.

"Developing countries are actually the biggest victims," Xie said.

Source: China Daily

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