published on World Economy 15 May 2019
An increasingly comprehensive set of environmental provisions is being integrated in preferential trade agreements (PTAs). Interestingly, while a number of these environmental provisions are included only rarely, others are duplicated in more than 100 PTAs. We still lack a convincing explanation for the conditions that fuel the uptake of specific provisions. This paper contributes to the growing literature on the design, interaction, and diffusion of international institutions and introduces two key innovations. First, our level of analysis is the provision level rather than the agreement level. Second, while the diffusion literature typically tries to explain how diffusion occurs, we investigate what makes diffusion more likely. We hypothesise that the initial conditions – relating both to agency and institutional factors – under which provisions first emerge determine the scope of their diffusion. Our results indicate that provisions originating from intercontinental agreements diffuse more often, and provisions first introduced by environmentally credible countries are more frequently duplicated than provisions introduced by economically powerful countries.