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Carbon, Trade Policy, and Carbon Free Trade Areas

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  • Yan Dong
  • John Whalley

Abstract

This paper discusses both the potential contribution that trade policy initiatives can make towards the achievement of significant global carbon emissions reduction and the potential impacts of proposals now circulating for carbon reduction motivated geographical trade arrangements, including carbon free trade areas. We first suggest that trade policy is likely to be a relatively minor consideration in climate change containment. The dominant influence on carbon emissions globally for next several decades will be growth more so than trade and its composition, and in turn, the size of trade seemingly matters more than its composition given differences in emission intensity between tradables and nontradables. We also note that differences in emissions intensity across countries are larger than across products or sectors and so issues of country discrimination in trade policy (and violations of MFN) arises. We next discuss both unilateral and regional carbon motivated trade policy arrangements, including three potential variants of carbon emission reduction based free trade area arrangements. One is regional trade agreements with varying types of trade preferences towards low carbon intensive products, low carbon new technologies and inputs to low carbon processes. A second is the use of joint border measures against third parties to counteract anti-competitive effects from groups of countries taking on deeper emission reduction commitments. A third is third country trade barriers along with free trade or other regional trade agreements as penalty mechanisms to pressure other countries to join emission reducing environmental agreements. We differentiate among the objectives, forms and possible impacts of each variant. We also speculate as to how the world trading system may evolve in the next few decades as trade policy potentially becomes increasingly dominated by environmental concerns. We suggest that the future evolution of the trading system will likely be with environmentally motivated arrangements acting as an overlay on prevailing trade and financial arrangements in the WTO and IMF, and eventually movement to linked global trade and environmental policy bargaining.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14431.

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Date of creation: Oct 2008
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Publication status: published as Yan Dong & John Whalley, 2010. "Carbon, Trade Policy and Carbon Free Trade Areas," The World Economy, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(9), pages 1073-1094, 09.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14431

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  1. Whalley, John, 1979. "Uniform domestic tax rates, trade distortions and economic integration," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 213-221, March.
  2. Ben Lockwood & John Whalley, 2010. "Carbon-motivated Border Tax Adjustments: Old Wine in Green Bottles?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(6), pages 810-819, 06.
  3. Roland Ismer & Karsten Neuhoff, 2007. "Border tax adjustment: a feasible way to support stringent emission trading," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 137-164, October.
  4. Gary Clyde Hufbauer & Carol Gabyzon, 1996. "Fundamental Tax Reform and Border Tax Adjustments," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number pa43.
  5. Yan Dong & John Whalley, 2009. "Carbon Motivated Regional Trade Arrangements: Analytics and Simulations," NBER Working Papers 14880, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Nadim Ahmad & Andrew Wyckoff, 2003. "Carbon Dioxide Emissions Embodied in International Trade of Goods," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2003/15, OECD Publishing.
  7. Piggott, John & Whalley, John & Wigle, Randall, 1993. "How large are the incentives to join subglobal carbon-reduction initiatives?," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 15(5-6), pages 473-490.
  8. John Whalley, 2008. "Recent Regional Agreements: Why So Many, Why So Much Variance in Form, Why Coming So Fast, and Where Are They Headed?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(4), pages 517-532, 04.
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Cited by:
  1. Naude, Wim, 2011. "Climate Change and Industrial Policy," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  2. Nicole A. MATHYS & Jaime de MELO, 2011. "The Political Economy of Climate Change Policies: Political Economy Aspects of Climate Change Mitigation Efforts," Working Papers P24, FERDI.
  3. Alessandro Antimiani & Valeria Costantini & Chiara Martini & Luca Salvatici, 2011. "Cooperative and non-cooperative solutions to carbon leakage," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0136, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
  4. Nicole A. MATHYS & Jaime de MELO, 2012. "Reconciling Trade and Climate Policies," Working Papers P37, FERDI.
  5. Dong, Yan & Whalley, John, 2011. "Carbon motivated regional trade arrangements: Analytics and simulations," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 2783-2792.
  6. Dong, Yan & Whalley, John, 2012. "Joint non-OPEC carbon taxes and the transfer of OPEC monopoly rents," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 49-63.
  7. Yan Dong & John Whalley, 2009. "A Third Benefit of Joint Non-OPEC Carbon Taxes: Transferring OPEC Monopoly Rent," CESifo Working Paper Series 2741, CESifo Group Munich.

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