OECD Trade and Environment Working Papers

1816-6881 (online)
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Selected studies addressing the policy interface between trade and environment prepared for use within the OECD. They address such issues a liberalizing trade in goods that affect the environment, and trade in environmental goods and services.

The Stringency of Environmental Regulations and Trade in Environmental Goods You or your institution have access to this content

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Jehan Sauvage1
Author Affiliations
  • 1: OECD, France

05 Dec 2014
Bibliographic information

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This report assesses conceptually and empirically the extent to which the stringency of environmental regulations drives international trade in environmental goods. Many of the measures governments adopt to address issues such as local air and water pollution or GHG emissions take the form of regulations that aim to change the behaviour of firms or households. Compliance by private actors with those regulations in turn generates a growing market for environmental goods and services that is increasingly international in scope as more countries tighten their environmental regulations. Regulatory stringency thus spurs the development of a market for a whole range of equipment specifically meant for preventing and abating pollution, with important implications for international trade in such equipment. The different indicators of regulatory stringency considered in the present analysis generally support the notion that the stringency of environmental regulations positively affects countries’ specialisation in environmental products, even when considering specific sectors such as solid-waste management or wastewater treatment. While increased trade in environmental products is not an end in itself, the environmental benefits this entails can contribute to global improvements in environmental quality. By increasing demand for environmental products and technologies, environmental policy can complement trade policy in supporting pollution-reduction efforts not just domestically, but also abroad.
environment, solid waste management, wastewater treatment, comparative advantage, environmental goods, trade, environmental regulations
JEL Classification:
  • F14: International Economics / Trade / Empirical Studies of Trade
  • F18: International Economics / Trade / Trade and Environment
  • Q53: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics ; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Environmental Economics / Air Pollution ; Water Pollution ; Noise ; Hazardous Waste ; Solid Waste ; Recycling
  • 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
  • Q58: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics ; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Environmental Economics / Government Policy
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