Environmental Concerns and Individual Trade Policy Preferences in Developing Countries
NCCR Trade Regulation working paper by Thomas Bernauer and Quynh Nguyen
Many political leaders of the Global South oppose linkages between trade liberalization and environmental protection. We examine whether citizens in developing countries share this position. Whereas a recent study finds that, in industrialized countries, environmental concerns are associated with protectionist sentiments, we hypothesize that citizens in poorer countries are likely to view the trade-environment nexus in a more positive light. We fielded a combination of surveys and conjoint experiments in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Vietnam to test this argument. The results show that citizens are concerned about negative environmental implications of trade. Yet, individuals with greener preferences are also more supportive of trade liberalization. Furthermore, and in contrast to prevailing government rhetoric, the majority of citizens support environmental clauses in trade agreements. These findings suggest that there might be room for more ambitious efforts to include environmental standards in international trade agreements.