Trading rules and the environment: Does equal treatment lead to a cleaner world?
In this paper, we consider a three-stage game in the context of a competing exporters model to compare and contrast the effects of discriminatory and uniform (Most Favored Nation, MFN) tariffs on countries' choice over environmental standards for varying degrees of pollution spillovers. Because of the presence of punishment effects and stronger own and cross-tariff effects, we find that discrimination yields higher standards than MFN (and free trade) independently of the extent of pollution spillovers. When pollution is local and incentives to free ride on other countries' abatement efforts are weak, we show, however, that welfare is larger under MFN than under discrimination. In a dynamic setting, we consider the impact of symmetric and asymmetric treatments on the sustainability of an international environmental agreement (IEA) and obtain that multilateral cooperation is easier to sustain under discrimination than under MFN (or free trade).
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