Free Trade And/Or Environmental Protection?

Global Environmental Politics 15/4: 105–129

Posted: 5 Dec 2017 Last revised: 12 Dec 2017

Date Written: November 9, 2015


Many political leaders of the Global South oppose linkages between trade liberalization and environmental protection. We field-tested a combination of surveys and conjoint experiments in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Vietnam to examine whether citizens in developing countries share this position. The results show that citizens do not view economic integration and environmental protection as a trade-off. To the contrary, individuals with greener preferences are 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.

Suggested Citation

Bernauer, Thomas and Nguyen, Quynh, Free Trade And/Or Environmental Protection? (November 9, 2015). Global Environmental Politics 15/4: 105–129. Available at SSRN:

Thomas Bernauer (Contact Author)

ETH Zurich ( email )

Center for Comparative and International Studies
Building IFW, office 45.1, Haldeneggsteig 4
Zurich 8092, 8092
+41 44 632 6466 (Phone)
+41 44 632 1289 (Fax)


Quynh Nguyen

ETH Zurich ( email )

Center for Comparative and International Studies
IFW, Haldeneggsteig 4, C43.1
Zürich, 8092

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