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Biofuel Subsidies and International Trade

  • Bandyopadhyay, Subhayu
  • Bhaumik, Sumon
  • Wall, Howard

This paper explores optimal biofuel subsidization in the context of a general equilibrium trade model. The focus is on biofuels such as corn-based ethanol, which diverts corn from use as food to use as an intermediate input in energy production. In the small-country case, when a Pigouvian tax on conventional fuels such as crude is in place, the optimal biofuel subsidy is zero. When the tax on crude is not available as a policy option, however, a second-best biofuel subsidy (or tax) is optimal. In the large-country case, a biofuel subsidy spurs global demand for food and confers a terms-of-trade benefit to the food-exporting nation. In the absence of beggar-thy-neighbor trade policy tools due to WTO rules, the twin objectives of pollution reduction and term-of-trade improvement justify a combination of crude tax and biofuel subsidy for the food exporter. If the food importer also uses a biofuel subsidy (or tax), we have a Johnson (1953) type Nash equilibrium augmented by pollution considerations. If biofuel subsidies reduce global crude use, then in a Nash equilibrium, the food-exporting nation must use a subsidy, while a food-importing nation will impose a subsidy if and only if the pollution-reduction effect dominates the terms-of-trade effect.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 30760.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:30760
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  1. Oecd, 2006. "Agricultural Market Impacts of Future Growth in the Production of Biofuels," OECD Papers, OECD Publishing, vol. 6(1), pages 1-57.
  2. Rauscher, Michael, 1997. "International Trade, Factor Movements, and the Environment," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290506, March.
  3. Vedenov, Dmitry & Wetzstein, Michael, 2008. "Toward an optimal U.S. ethanol fuel subsidy," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 2073-2090, September.
  4. Farzad Taheripour, 2008. "Welfare Effects and Unintended Consequences of Ethanol Subsidies ," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 30(3), pages 411-421.
  5. Marjit, Sugata & Kar, Saibal & Beladi, Hamid, 2007. "Protectionary bias in agriculture: A pure economic argument," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 160-164, June.
  6. Werner Antweiler & Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 1998. "Is Free Trade Good for the Environment?," NBER Working Papers 6707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Harry de Gorter & David R. Just, 2010. "The Social Costs and Benefits of Biofuels: The Intersection of Environmental, Energy and Agricultural Policy," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 32(1), pages 4-32.
  8. Lapan, Harvey E. & Moschini, GianCarlo, 2009. "Biofuels Policies and Welfare: Is the Stick of Mandates Better Than the Carrot of Subsidies?," Staff General Research Papers 13076, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  9. Copeland,B.R. & Scott Taylor,M., 2003. "Trade, growth and the environment," Working papers 10, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  10. Copeland, Brian R & Taylor, M Scott, 1994. "North-South Trade and the Environment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 755-87, August.
  11. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Andrew K. Rose, 2002. "Is Trade Good or Bad for the Environment? Sorting Out the Causality," NBER Working Papers 9201, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Fredriksson, Per G., 1997. "The Political Economy of Pollution Taxes in a Small Open Economy," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 44-58, May.
  13. Jen Baggs, 2009. "International Trade in Hazardous Waste," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(1), pages 1-16, 02.
  14. Lopez Ramon, 1994. "The Environment as a Factor of Production: The Effects of Economic Growth and Trade Liberalization," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 163-184, September.
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