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Re: [carfree_cities] Bicycles as environmental goods

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  • Andras Toth
    I am no economist, so could you list some other advantages of removing international tariffs and trade barriers on bicycles than the price for the end-user?
    Message 1 of 8 , May 1, 2006
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      I am no economist, so could you list some other advantages of
      removing international tariffs and trade barriers on bicycles than
      the price for the end-user?
      Would it not mean that the imported junk bicycles you get from the
      supermarkets will be even cheaper than today, thereby creating an
      even more unsurmountable competition for the inevitably more
      expensive quality bicycles?
      I know it is simplistic to say that cheap bicycles are all bad and
      that the good ones can only be big names worth at least 600 USD, on
      the other hand we cannot deny either that someone unexperienced could
      be deterred from everyday cycling by a bad quality bicycle.

      Andras Toth

      At 00:15 29/04/2006, you wrote:
      >Nice info, maybe we could find a way to support? Letters signed by many
      >parties, etc.
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      >Source: http://itdp.org/STe/ste21/wto.html
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      >WTO Negotiations Open Possibility of Defining Bicycles as Environmental
      >Goods
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      >By Matthew Sholler
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      >Current efforts to designate bikes as "environmentally preferable products"
      >free of tariffs
      >and other trade barriers have gone largely unnoticed by the international
      >bicycling community.
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      >Organizations promoting bicycle use at the international level may have a
      >new avenue to do so -- through the liberalization of trade in bicycles,
      >bicycle parts and components, and bicycle accessories that could result from
      >the World Trade Organization's (WTO) current negotiations on environmental
      >goods and services.
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      >The mandate for these negotiations comes from the so-called Doha Development
      >Agenda (DDA), issued by trade ministers at the WTO Ministerial Conference in
      >Doha, Qatar, in November 2002. Paragraph 31(iii) of the DDA calls for the
      >reduction or elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental
      >goods and services. WTO ministers did not, however, define what constitutes
      >an "environmental good", so the negotiations have moved forward largely on
      >the basis of lists of suggested goods by WTO member economies.
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      >One sub-category of products is referred to as "environmentally preferable
      >products", or EPPs, deemed superior to close substitutes because of the way
      >they are produced, used or disposed of.
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      >At the end of 2004, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
      >Development (OECD) was asked by its member countries to prepare a study of
      >EPPs, concentrating on products whose liberalization would benefit
      >developing countries, either through improved environmental outcomes or
      >increased trade in the product. The bicycle emerged as one of the three EPPs
      >the OECD Secretariat chose to study in depth.
      >(A copy of the report may be found here:
      >http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/45/19/35841725.pdf)
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      >In mid-2005, Switzerland, an OECD member country, submitted its own list of
      >proposed environmental goods to the WTO, which included bicycles, bicycle
      >parts and components, and certain accessories. The Swiss proposal has been
      >met with mixed reactions by other member countries, many of which are
      >represented in WTO negotiations by representatives from trade ministries who
      >do not grasp the bicycle's environmental relevance. Others, usually from
      >environment ministries, have generally been more supportive of the idea.
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      >As of this writing, no definitive common list of environmentally goods has
      >been agreed by WTO negotiators. There may still be an opportunity for
      >bicycle advocates to tell their countries' WTO delegates just how important
      >it is to grant "environmental good" status to bicycles, parts and
      >accessories.
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      >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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      >Yahoo! Groups Links
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    • Richard Risemberg
      ... Yes, it s true about the effect of bad bicycles, but the problem is that even the good ones are imported, for the most part. Kogswell.com is in the process
      Message 2 of 8 , May 1, 2006
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        On May 1, 2006, at 4:41 AM, Andras Toth wrote:
        > I know it is simplistic to say that cheap bicycles are all bad and
        > that the good ones can only be big names worth at least 600 USD, on
        > the other hand we cannot deny either that someone unexperienced could
        > be deterred from everyday cycling by a bad quality bicycle.
        Yes, it's true about the effect of bad bicycles, but the problem is
        that even the good ones are imported, for the most part.

        Kogswell.com is in the process of contracting a Taiwanese factory to
        make a quality commute bike--better than the Dutch style stuff for US
        distances--that they hope to sell for around $200. That's still more
        than Wal*Mart/K-Mart rices, but I know Kogswell's quality and it
        would be immeasurably better. There is NO ONE attempting this in
        the US despite considerable unused industrial infrastructure and a
        lot of people with good hands and eyes looking for work. I have been
        making hints on the bike forums that perhaps the folks I know of that
        are setting up bicycle factories in Ukraine, Africa, etc. and
        training locals in framebuilding could do the same thing in the US
        and tie in with local marketing/design companies such as Kogswell.

        But as long as cheap oil subsidizes the boat ride over from China,
        and as long as Americans are willing to compromise every possible
        fragment of product quality for a low price, it will be difficult.
        Even Taiwan bikes are "too expensive" for many Americans--Americans
        who have money even. They're unusable, being really just frail icons
        of bicycles, but they're cheap, and it's illusions we buy here in the
        land of products made to be sold, not to be used. The illusion of
        freedom a car gives you while putting you in bondage, the illusion of
        community in suburbs with quaint monikers where you don't know your
        next-door neighbor's name....

        Nevertheless, making good bicycles available cheaper, as tariff
        reductions would do (even US made frames sport Japanese or Italian
        parts) would be a small step forward. It would also symbolize a
        commitment to oil-free transport, which is more important in the
        short term. The details can be adjusted later.

        Rick
        --
        Richard Risemberg
        http://www.rickrise.com
        http://www.newcolonist.com
        http://www.living-room.org
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