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Trade Growth, Production Fragmentation, and China's Environment

In: China's Growing Role in World Trade

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  • Judith M. Dean
  • Mary E. Lovely

Abstract

Trade growth for a relatively poor country is thought to shift the composition of industrial output towards dirtier products, aggravating environmental damage. China's rapidly growing trade and serious environmental degradation appear to be no exception. However, much of China's trade growth is attributable to the international fragmentation of production. This kind of trade could be cleaner, if fragmented production occurs in cleaner goods, or if China specializes in cleaner stages of production within these goods. Using Chinese official environmental data on air and water pollution, and official trade data, we present evidence that (1) China's industrial output has become cleaner over time, (2) China's exports have shifted toward relatively cleaner, highly fragmented sectors, and (3) the pollution intensity of Chinese exports has fallen dramatically between 1995 and 2004. We then explore the role of fragmentation and FDI in this trend toward cleaner trade. Beginning with a standard model of the pollution intensity of trade, we develop a model that explicitly introduces production fragmentation into the export sector. We then estimate this model using pooled data on four pollutants over ten years. Econometric results support the view that increased FDI and production fragmentation have contributed positively to the decline in the pollution intensity of China's trade, as has accession to the WTO and lower tariff rates.
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Suggested Citation

  • Judith M. Dean & Mary E. Lovely, 2010. "Trade Growth, Production Fragmentation, and China's Environment," NBER Chapters,in: China's Growing Role in World Trade, pages 429-469 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10469
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ederington Josh & Levinson Arik & Minier Jenny, 2004. "Trade Liberalization and Pollution Havens," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(2), pages 1-24, November.
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    5. repec:wsi:wschap:9789813141094_0009 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Judith M. Dean & Mary E. Lovely & Hua Wang, 2017. "Are foreign investors attracted to weak environmental regulations? Evaluating the evidence from China," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: International Economic Integration and Domestic Performance, chapter 9, pages 155-167 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    7. Arik Levinson, 2009. "Technology, International Trade, and Pollution from US Manufacturing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2177-2192, December.
    8. Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 2004. "Trade, Growth, and the Environment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(1), pages 7-71, March.
    9. Dean, Judith & Fung, K.C. & Wang, Zhi, 2008. "How vertically specialized is Chinese trade?," BOFIT Discussion Papers 31/2008, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
    10. Robert Koopman & Zhi Wang & Shang-Jin Wei, 2008. "How Much of Chinese Exports is Really Made In China? Assessing Domestic Value-Added When Processing Trade is Pervasive," NBER Working Papers 14109, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Judith M. Dean, 2002. "Does trade liberalization harm the environment? A new test," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(4), pages 819-842, November.
    12. Werner Antweiler & Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 2001. "Is Free Trade Good for the Environment?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 877-908, September.
    13. Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 1994. "North-South Trade and the Environment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 755-787.
    14. Barry Naughton, 2007. "The Chinese Economy: Transitions and Growth," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262640643, May.
    15. John Henley & Colin Kirkpatrick & Georgina Wilde, 1999. "Foreign Direct Investment in China: Recent Trends and Current Policy Issues," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(2), pages 223-243, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Pauline Lacour & Catherine Figuière, 2011. "Environmentally friendly technologies transfers through trade flows from Japan to China - An approach by bilateral trade in environmental goods," Post-Print halshs-00628832, HAL.
    2. Hering, Laura & Poncet, Sandra, 2014. "Environmental policy and exports: Evidence from Chinese cities," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 296-318.
    3. Svetlana Batrakova & Ronald Davies, 2012. "Is there an environmental benefit to being an exporter? Evidence from firm-level data," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 148(3), pages 449-474, September.
    4. Zhao, Liqiu & Wang, Fei & Zhao, Zhong, 2016. "Trade Liberalization and Child Labor in China," IZA Discussion Papers 10295, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Jiang, Liangliang & Lin, Chen & Lin, Ping, 2014. "The determinants of pollution levels: Firm-level evidence from Chinese manufacturing," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 118-142.
    6. Michele Imbruno & Tobias Ketterer, 2016. "Energy efficiency gains from trade in intermediate inputs: firm-level evidence from Indonesia," GRI Working Papers 244, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    7. Zhang, Jingjing, 2015. "Carbon emission, energy consumption and intermediate goods trade: A regional study of East Asia," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 118-122.
    8. repec:wsi:wschap:9789813141094_0009 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Chris Milner & Fangya Xu, "undated". "On The Pollution Content of China’s Trade: Clearing the Air?," Discussion Papers 09/19, University of Nottingham, GEP.
    10. Michikazu Kojima & Etsuyo Michida, 2011. "Trade and the Environment," Chapters,in: The Economics of East Asian Integration, chapter 18 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Fernando Broner & Paula Bustos & Vasco Carvalho, 2011. "Sources of comparative advantage in polluting industries (with appendix)," Economics Working Papers 1331, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Dec 2016.
    12. Judith M. Dean & Mary E. Lovely & Hua Wang, 2017. "Are foreign investors attracted to weak environmental regulations? Evaluating the evidence from China," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: International Economic Integration and Domestic Performance, chapter 9, pages 155-167 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    13. Cherniwchan, Jevan, 2017. "Trade liberalization and the environment: Evidence from NAFTA and U.S. manufacturing," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 130-149.
    14. Jayanthakumaran, Kankesu & Liu, Ying, 2012. "Openness and the Environmental Kuznets Curve: Evidence from China," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 566-576.
    15. Fernando Broner & Paula Bustos & Vasco M. Carvalho, 2012. "Sources of Comparative Advantage in Polluting Industries," NBER Working Papers 18337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Dietzenbacher, Erik & Pei, Jiansuo & Yang, Cuihong, 2012. "Trade, production fragmentation, and China's carbon dioxide emissions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 88-101.
    17. Laura Hering & Sandra Poncet, 2011. "Environmental policy and trade performance: Evidence from China," Working Papers 2011-30, CEPII research center.
    18. repec:eee:eneeco:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:13-23 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Richard Pomfret, 2009. "Regionalism in the Asia-Pacific Region: How Wide, How Deep?," School of Economics Working Papers 2009-31, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment
    • F2 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business

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