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To B(TA) or not to B(TA)? On the Legality and Desirability of Border Tax Adjustments from a Trade Perspective


  • Henrik HORN

    () (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

  • Petros C. MAVROIDIS

    (Columbia Law School)


This paper asks two questions concerning Border Tax Adjustments for climate purposes, when viewed from a trade perspective: First, under what conditions are BTAs possible in the WTO-world? To address this issue, the paper provides a detailed discussion of the relevant law and case law. We also apply our main conclusions on what we consider to be paradigmatic cases of measures to address climate change where trade concerns are raised. We conclude that the WTO regime is no major obstacle to those aspiring to use BTAs, although the allocation of the burden of proof could be an issue. The second issue addressed is whether the economic literature on the desirability of BTAs adequately reflects concerns that have been raised in the trade policy community. Here we conclude that it has hardly addressed these concerns at all. We also point to some aspects of BTAs that would be important to take into account in a more complete analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Henrik HORN & Petros C. MAVROIDIS, 2011. "To B(TA) or not to B(TA)? On the Legality and Desirability of Border Tax Adjustments from a Trade Perspective," Working Papers P21, FERDI.
  • Handle: RePEc:fdi:wpaper:792

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Horn, Henrik & Mavroidis, Petros C., 2008. "The Permissible Reach of National Environmental Policies," Working Paper Series 739, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 20 Jun 2008.
    2. de Melo, Jaime & Mathys, Nicole Andréa, 2010. "Trade and Climate Change: The Challenges Ahead," CEPR Discussion Papers 8032, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Harry G. Johnson & Mel Krauss, 1970. "Border Taxes, Border Tax Adjustments, Comparative Advantage, and the Balance of Payments," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 3(4), pages 595-602, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nicole A. MATHYS & Jaime DE MELO, 2012. "Reconciling Trade and Climate Policies," Working Papers P37, FERDI.
    2. repec:eee:jeeman:v:84:y:2017:i:c:p:44-61 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. John Whalley, 2011. "What Role for Trade in a Post‐2012 Global Climate Policy Regime," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(11), pages 1844-1862, November.
    4. Böhringer, Christoph & Rosendahl, Knut Einar & Briseid Storrøsten, Halvor, 2015. "Smart hedging against carbon leakage," Working Paper Series 14-2015, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, School of Economics and Business.
    5. Petros C. Mavroidis & Damien Neven, 2018. "Things have changed (or Have they?) Tariff protection and environmental concerns in the WTO," IHEID Working Papers 04-2018, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
    6. repec:eee:pubeco:v:149:y:2017:i:c:p:35-46 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Aaditya Mattoo & Arvind Subramanian, 2013. "Four Changes to Trade Rules to Facilitate Climate Change Action," Policy Briefs PB13-10, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    8. Christoph Böhringer & Knut Einar Rosendahl & Halvor Briseid Storrøsten, 2015. "Mitigating carbon leakage: Combining output-based rebating with a consumption tax," ZenTra Working Papers in Transnational Studies 54 / 2015, ZenTra - Center for Transnational Studies.
    9. Kaushal, Kevin Raj, 2018. "Emission price, output-based allocation and consumption tax: Optimal climate policy in the presence of another country’s climate policy," Working Paper Series 8-2018, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, School of Economics and Business.
    10. Madison Condon & Ada Ignaciuk, 2013. "Border Carbon Adjustment and International Trade: A Literature Review," OECD Trade and Environment Working Papers 2013/6, OECD Publishing.
    11. repec:taf:tcpoxx:v:17:y:2017:i:5:p:634-649 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. repec:eee:resene:v:50:y:2017:i:c:p:51-73 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Fischer, Carolyn & Fox, Alan K., 2012. "Comparing policies to combat emissions leakage: Border carbon adjustments versus rebates," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 199-216.
    14. Mattoo, Aaditya & Subramanian, Arvind, 2013. "A"greenprint"for international cooperation on climate change," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6440, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • K34 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Tax Law


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