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Trade, environmental regulations and the World Trade Organization : new empirical evidence

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Author Info

  • Busse, Matthias

Abstract

The paper empirically explores the linkages between environmental regulations and international trade flows. So far, empirical studies either have failed to find any close statistical relationship or have delivered questionable results due to data limitations. Using a comprehensive new database for environmental regulations across countries, a thorough empirical investigation of that linkage for 119 countries and five high-polluting industries is performed. No evidence is found to support the pollution hypothesis that industries facing above-average abatement costs with environmental regulations would prefer pollution havens and relocate their activities. The exception is iron and steel products, where a negative and statistically significant link is established, implying that higher compliance with international treaties and conventions and more stringent regulations are associated with reduced net exports. High-income countries, where environmental regulations are usually more stringent in comparison to middle or low income countries, have experienced a considerable decline in the export-import ratio of iron and steel products since the late 1970s. There is no clear evidence that national governments choose sub-optimal policies that result in insufficient regulations, so the case for environmental standards within the WTO framework is relatively weak.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3361.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3361

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Related research

Keywords: Water and Industry; Environmental Economics&Policies; Public Health Promotion; Economic Theory&Research; Administrative&Regulatory Law; Environmental Economics&Policies; Economic Theory&Research; Water and Industry; Administrative&Regulatory Law; Trade and Services;

References

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  1. Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 2003. "Trade, Growth and the Environment," NBER Working Papers 9823, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Maskus, Keith E. & Wilson, John S. & Tsunehiro Otsuki, 2000. "Quantifying the impact of technical barriers to trade : a framework for analysis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2512, The World Bank.
  3. Eli Berman & Linda T.M. Bui, 1998. "Environmental Regulation and Productivity: Evidence from Oil Refineries," NBER Working Papers 6776, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Eskeland, Gunnar S. & Harrison, Ann E., 2003. "Moving to greener pastures? Multinationals and the pollution haven hypothesis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 1-23, February.
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  14. de Melo, Jaime & Grether, Jean-Marie, 2003. "Globalization and Dirty Industries: Do Pollution Havens Matter?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3932, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  16. Wilson, John S. & Tsunehiro Otsuki & Sewadeh, Mirvat, 2002. "Dirty exports and environmental regulation : do standards matter to trade?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2806, The World Bank.
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  19. Levinson, Arik, 1996. "Environmental regulations and manufacturers' location choices: Evidence from the Census of Manufactures," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1-2), pages 5-29, October.
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  24. Arik Levinson, 1999. "State Taxes and Interstate Hazardous Waste Shipments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 666-677, June.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Kirkpatrick, Colin & Shimamoto, Kenichi, 2005. "The Effect of Environmental Regulation on the Locational Choice of Japanese Foreign Direct Investment," Impact Assessment Research Centre (IARC) Working Papers 30584, University of Manchester, Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM).
  2. Babool, Md. Ashfaqul Islam & Reed, Michael R., 2005. "International Competitiveness and Environmental Regulations," 2005 Annual meeting, July 24-27, Providence, RI 19496, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  3. Medalla, Erlinda M. & Lazaro, Dorothea C., 2005. "Does Trade Lead to a Race to the Bottom in Environmental Standards? Another Look at the Issues," Discussion Papers DP 2005-23, Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
  4. Yang Lu, 2010. "Do environmental regulations influence the competitiveness of pollution-intensive products?," Frontiers of Economics in China, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 276-298, June.

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