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Environmental and economic impacts of trade barriers: The example of China–US trade friction


  • Liu, Li-Jing
  • Creutzig, Felix
  • Yao, Yun-Fei
  • Wei, Yi-Ming
  • Liang, Qiao-Mei


The new age of trade wars could simultaneously affect the worldwide distribution pattern of the economy and environmental emissions. However, previous studies have focused on economic impacts, and on trade liberalization, while little is known about the equilibrium effects of trade barriers on the environment. Using a global computable general equilibrium model and taking the recent anti-trade policies of the Trump administration as an example, this study investigates the possible socio-economic and environmental effects of trade friction. Specifically, this study explores how the implemented six rounds of China–US trade friction and its different long-term development trends affect regional economic output, GHG and air pollutant emissions. Results show that trade barriers harm both countries’ economies and such losses have a certain permanence, while non-participants can benefit indirectly. Trade friction decreases participants’ GHG emissions, modifies global GHG emission distribution patterns, and leads to improved air quality in most countries. If governments continue to impose tariffs, global GHG emissions could counterfactually decrease by up to 5%. However, the change in trade patterns is not conducive to clean energy development in the less-developed regions, including the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, and emission reductions from trade friction are insufficient to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Suggested Citation

  • Liu, Li-Jing & Creutzig, Felix & Yao, Yun-Fei & Wei, Yi-Ming & Liang, Qiao-Mei, 2020. "Environmental and economic impacts of trade barriers: The example of China–US trade friction," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:resene:v:59:y:2020:i:c:s0928765519301745
    DOI: 10.1016/j.reseneeco.2019.101144

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    More about this item


    Trade barrier; Tariff increase; Greenhouse gases; Pollutant emissions; Climate change;

    JEL classification:

    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment
    • F47 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • F62 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Macroeconomic Impacts
    • F64 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Environment
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy


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