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Environmental policy and trade performance: Evidence from China


  • Laura Hering
  • Sandra Poncet


This paper aims at assessing the impact of environmental regulations on the export activity of firms in China. The environmental policy we study is the so- called Two Control Zones (TCZ) policy, which has been implemented in 1998 in China. The aim of this policy was to reduce the sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions in targeted cities with particularly high air pollution. We use a data set of 265 Chinese cities for the years 1997 to 2003, and exploit variations across time, sectors and firm types to extract the causal effect of the policy on firms’ performance. We indeed expect the TCZ policy to have a larger impact the heavier the pollution content of the activity and the lower the political status of the firm. In line with the political pecking order of firms that exists in China, we expect the impact of the environmental policy to be mitigated by state ownership. Our results are in line with our expectations and suggest that the TCZ policy has been effective. We find that State-owned firms are less intensively affected and thus able to export relatively more, especially in energy intensive sectors. By contrast, we see a relative decline in foreign and private firms’ exports; the more the energy-use of the sector the larger the decline.

Suggested Citation

  • Laura Hering & Sandra Poncet, 2011. "Environmental policy and trade performance: Evidence from China," Working Papers 2011-30, CEPII research center.
  • Handle: RePEc:cii:cepidt:2011-30

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bernard, Andrew B. & Bradford Jensen, J., 1999. "Exceptional exporter performance: cause, effect, or both?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 1-25, February.
    2. Lu, Jiangyong & Tao, Zhigang, 2010. "Determinants of entrepreneurial activities in China," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 261-273, May.
    3. 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.
    4. repec:wsi:wschap:9789813141094_0009 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Kalina Manova & Shang-Jin Wei & Zhiwei Zhang, 2015. "Firm Exports and Multinational Activity Under Credit Constraints," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(3), pages 574-588, July.
    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. Hua Wang & Nlandu Mamingi & Benoit Laplante & Susmita Dasgupta, 2003. "Incomplete Enforcement of Pollution Regulation: Bargaining Power of Chinese Factories," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 24(3), pages 245-262, March.
    8. Sandra Poncet, 2005. "A Fragmented China: Measure and Determinants of Chinese Domestic Market Disintegration," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 409-430, August.
    9. Josh Ederington & Arik Levinson & Jenny Minier, 2005. "Footloose and Pollution-Free," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 92-99, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lu, Yi & Wu, Mingqin & Yu, Linhui, 2012. "Is There a Pollution Haven Effect? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in China," MPRA Paper 38787, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Greaney, Theresa M. & Li, Yao & Tu, Dongmei, 2017. "Pollution control and foreign firms’ exit behavior in China," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 148-159.

    More about this item


    Export performance; Spillovers;

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade

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