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Does trade liberalization harm the environment? A new test


  • Judith M. Dean


Some believe that relatively lenient environmental standards give developing countries a comparative advantage in pollution–intensive goods. Thus, freer trade will harm their environment. This paper brings together the literature on openness and growth, and on the environmental Kuznet’s curve, to demonstrate that the opposite may be true. A simultaneous–equations system is derived which incorporates multiple effects of trade liberalization on the environment. Estimation using pooled provincial data on Chinese water pollution, suggests that freer trade aggravates environmental damage via the terms of trade, but mitigates it via income growth. Simulations suggest that the net effect in China was beneficial. JEL Classification: Fl3, Q28, 0l9 Est–ce que la libéralisation du commerce est nuisible pour l’environnement? Un nouveau test. Certains croient que des normes environnementales relativement peu contraignantes donnent un avantage comparatif aux pays en voie de développement dans la production de biens qui polluent intensivement. Donc, un commerce plus libre contribuera à nuire à l’environnement. Ce mémoire synthétise la littérature spécialisée sur l’ouverture des marchés et la croissance, ainsi que sur la courbe de Kuznets, pour montrer que l’inverse est vrai. On dérive un système d’équations simultanées qui incorpore les multiples effets de la libéralisation du commerce sur l’environnement. La calibration de ce système, en utilisant de manière intégrée les données provinciales de pollution de l’eau en Chine, suggère qu’un commerce plus libre aggrave l’état de l’environnement par le truchement du jeu des termes d’échange, mais que cet effet est mitigé par l’effet de croissance des revenus. Des simulations suggèrent que l’effet net en Chine est positif.

Suggested Citation

  • Judith M. Dean, 2002. "Does trade liberalization harm the environment? A new test," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 35(4), pages 819-842, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:canjec:v:35:y:2002:i:4:p:819-842
    DOI: 10.1111/0008-4085.00155

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    JEL classification:

    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy


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