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Handbook on International Trade Policy

Handbook on International Trade Policy

Elgar original reference

Edited by William A. Kerr and James D. Gaisford

The Handbook on International Trade Policy is an insightful and comprehensive reference tool focusing on trade policy issues in the era of globalization. Each specially commissioned chapter deals with important international trade issues, discusses the current literature on the subject, and explores major controversies. The Handbook also directs the interested reader to further sources of information.

Chapter 39: Trade and the Environment: What Do We Know?

Brian R. Copeland

Subjects: economics and finance, international economics


Brian R. Copeland Introduction Is globalization bad for the environment?1 This issue attracts heated debate, much rhetoric and sharply divergent views. Anti-globalization protesters in Seattle dressed up in turtle suits to protest what they viewed as interference by the World Trade Organization (WTO) with the rights of countries to restrict trade for environmental reasons. The popular media points to examples such as the shipbreaking industry2 in which weak environmental standards appear to be a major factor in inducing rich countries to shift their environmental problems to poor countries. And there is much concern that forests and fish stocks are depleted more rapidly when export markets are available. On the other hand, the pro-free trade lobby argues that free trade and a clean environment are not incompatible. WTO rules simply require that governments not discriminate against foreign-produced goods, and leave countries free to implement tough environmental standards. Moreover by increasing real incomes, trade gives countries more resources to allocate to protecting the environment. And globalization promotes both the diffusion of new environmentally friendly technology, and the diffusion of ideas and environmental lobby groups across borders. This debate has stimulated a great deal of research in the past few years, and in this chapter I review what we know about how trade affects the environment, how we know this, and what we still need to know.3 Although some of the debate stems from different views about the trade-off between environmental quality and income, there are also important...

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