Concern for the Environment and Individual Attitudes Towards International Trade in Developing Countries
41 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2014
Date Written: July 3, 2014
Many political leaders of the Global South oppose linkages between environmental standards and trade liberalization. We examine whether citizens in developing countries share this position. Whereas a recent study finds that in developed countries environmental concerns are associated with protectionist sentiments, we hypothesize that citizens in poor 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 respondents express concerns about negative implications of trade for the environment. However, individuals with greener preferences are also more supportive of trade liberalization. Furthermore, and in contrast to prevailing government rhetoric, the majority of respondents support environmental clauses in trade agreements. The main policy implication is that – irrespective of green protectionism rhetoric – there exists room for more ambitious efforts to include environmental standards in international trade agreements.
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