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Tax design of traditional BTAs

Fostering Environmental Protection

Alice Pirlot

This chapter highlights BTAs’ distinguishing features in comparison to other trade-related measures. As their name indicates, BTAs are border tax adjustments. Each concept (‘border’; ‘tax’; ‘adjustment’) informs the essence of BTAs (Section 1). Aside from this conceptual definition, countries’ practices also permit BTAs to be understood in terms of tax design, which is crucial for the development of environmental BTAs. Traditional models of BTAs include EU VAT and excise duties systems as well as US sales taxes (Section 2). Keywords: VAT; excise duties; retail sales taxes; GATT 1968 Report; OECD 1970 Report

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Tax design of environmental BTAs

Fostering Environmental Protection

Alice Pirlot

In contrast to traditional BTAs, there is no commonly agreed definition of environmental BTAs. Environmental BTAs are here defined by reference, and in comparison, to the essential features of traditional BTAs (Section 1). Moreover, environmental BTAs may be described by means of their tax design. Some models of environmental BTAs copy the structure of excise duties and VAT. Other models are inspired by policy measures that have been implemented or proposed in the US, the EU and Australia (Section 2). This chapter discusses traditional environmental excise duty models, models based on the US Superfund & ODC taxes, CO2 tax models, the models of the carbon-added tax and environmental VAT. Finally, all models of environmental BTAs are characterised by similar tax design issues as far as the valuation of the imported products is concerned, the risks of abuse and the allocation of the revenue derived from the tax (Section 3). Keywords: traditional environmental excise duty model; US Superfund & ODC taxes; CO2 tax models; carbon-added tax; environmental VAT

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Legal framework of traditional BTAs

Fostering Environmental Protection

Alice Pirlot

This chapter first focuses on BTAs’ main legal grounds, from the general GATT provisions that form part of BTAs’ legal framework to WTO legal provisions that are specific to BTAs on imports and BTAs on exports (Section 1). The objective is to draw attention to the legal limits established by WTO law’s main provisions surrounding BTAs. Second, this chapter discusses these provisions from a substantive viewpoint, analysing the conditions and limits set up by WTO law on the adoption of BTAs (Section 2). Among other legal issues, this chapter discusses the relationship between GATT Article II:2(a) and GATT Article III:2, the impact of the National Treatment principle on the eligibility of taxes occultes for BTAs and the extent to which the ASCM limits the adoption of BTAs on exports. Keywords: GATT Article II :2(a); GATT Article III; ASCM; National Treatment principle; taxes occultes

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Legal framework of environmental BTAs

Fostering Environmental Protection

Alice Pirlot

This chapter concentrates on the legal framework surrounding environmental BTAs, drawing attention to the peculiarities of environmental taxes in comparison to traditional BTAs. The integration of environmental considerations into BTAs indeed raises additional legal questions, both within and beyond WTO law. This chapter first analyses the compatibility of environmental BTAs with the ‘traditional’ WTO law provisions surrounding BTAs (Section 1). Among other legal issues, this chapter highlights the controversial views surrounding the eligibility of taxes on process and production methods (PPMs) for BTAs. Second, it takes a broader perspective and discusses GATT Article XX and other non-WTO relevant legal provisions, including principles of international environmental and tax law (Section 2). Keywords: process and production methods (PPMs); GATT Article XX; extraterritoriality; common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR); tax sovereignty

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History and theoretical foundations of traditional BTAs

Fostering Environmental Protection

Alice Pirlot

The history of BTAs has been largely unexplored by the literature. Nevertheless, the historical analysis of traditional BTAs may contribute to a better understanding of BTAs’ main purpose and WTO legal limits to their adoption. This chapter discusses the historical development of BTAs against the background of the removal of tariffs, from Ricardo’s economic theory on free trade to more recent views expressed at the political level since the mid-20th century. This chapter first analyses BTAs’ economic foundations (Section 1). Second, the political history of BTAs is discussed (Section 2). Finally, this chapter offers an overview of BTAs’ main theoretical foundations (Section 3). Keywords: economic & political history; theoretical foundation; Ricardo; theory of comparative advantage; theory of absolute advantage

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Alice Pirlot

In comparison to traditional BTAs, environmental BTAs have had a much more recent history. The analysis of political proposals in favour of environmental BTAs illustrates that they are based on theoretical foundations that differ slightly from traditional BTAs, namely Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage and the theory of absolute advantage. Environmental BTAs’ political history also shows that some steps have already been taken in support of the development of the environmental dimension of BTAs (e.g. the US Superfund tax). This chapter first analyses the economic history of environmental BTAs (Section 1). Second, it discusses their political development (Section 2). Finally, this chapter offers an overview of environmental BTAs’ theoretical foundations (Section 3). Keywords: economic & political history; theoretical foundations; revised theory of comparative advantage; theory of legitimate absolute advantage; US Superfund tax

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Alice Pirlot

This timely book brings clarity to the debate on the new legal phenomenon of environmental border tax adjustments. It will help form a better understanding of the role and limits these taxes have on environmental policies in combating global environmental challenges, such as climate change.
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Conclusion

Fostering Environmental Protection

Alice Pirlot

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Janet E. Milne

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Janet E. Milne