Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Impact of environmental regulations on trade in the main EU countries: conflict or synergy?

de santis, roberta (2011): Impact of environmental regulations on trade in the main EU countries: conflict or synergy? Published in: LLEE working paper series No. n.93 (April 2011): pp. 1-24.

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Abstract

In an increasingly integrated world with declining trade barriers, environmental regulations can have a decisive role in shaping countries’ comparative advantages. The conventional wisdom about environmental protection is that it comes at an additional cost on firms imposed by the government, which may erode their global competitiveness. However, this paradigm has been challenged by some analysts. In particular, Porter (1991) and Porter and Van der Linde (1995) argue that pollution is often associated with a waste of resources and that more stringent environmental policies can stimulate innovations that may over-compensate for the costs of complying with these policies. This is known as the Porter hypothesis. While there is a broad empirical literature on the impact of trade on environment the empirical literature on the impact of environmental regulations on trade flows is relatively scarce, very heterogeneous and presents mixed results. The innovative feature of this paper is its attempts to estimate, in a gravity setting, augmented with a proxi of environmental stringency, the impact of three major Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) on 15 EU countries bilateral exports. According to our estimates, in the period 1988-2008, to be member of MEAs had a positive average impact on EU15 bilateral exports. This evidence can be partly explained by a possible trade diversion effect with respect to countries that did not sign MEAs, and a corresponding trade creation effect among members of the environmental agreements. Furthermore, evidence coming from interaction effects estimates seems to show that for exporting countries having signed the UNFCCC and the Montreal agreements, partly mitigates (by the amount of the estimated coefficient ) the negative impact of having a relatively more stringent environmental regulation on bilateral trade. This result could have important policy implications for the future international trade- environmental negotiations.

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