The trade effects of environmental provisions in preferential trade agreements

Berger, Axel / Clara Brandi / Jean-Frédéric Morin / Jakob Schwab
External Publications (2020)

in: Beverelli, Cosimo / Jürgen Kurz / Damian Raess (Eds.), International Trade, Investment, and the Sustainable Development Goals, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 111-139

DOI: 10.1017/9781108881364.006

The international community has acknowledged that international trade can be an effective means of helping to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Traditionally, preferential trade agreements (PTAs) were designed to promote trade flows. PTAs have become more comprehensive and now also cover non-economic policy areas, such as the environment. This chapter examines whether the inclusion of environmental provisions in PTAs changes the observed overall positive contribution that PTAs make to economic outcomes and thereby to the economic objectives of the SDGs. Specifically, we ask whether the inclusion of environmental provisions in PTAs reduces export flows between PTA partner countries. Using a novel data set on environmental provisions in PTAs, we estimate gravity type panel regressions. We find that membership in PTAs including more environmental provisions is associated with less trade among trade partners compared to PTAs that include less or no environmental provisions. This negative effect of environmental provisions is fully driven by the negative effect on South–North trade flows, i.e. exports from developing to high-income countries.

About the authors

Berger, Axel

Political Science


Brandi, Clara

Economy and Political Science


Schwab, Jakob



Further experts

Bauer, Steffen

Political scientist 

Baumann, Max-Otto

Political Science 

Brehm, Johannes


Götze, Jacqueline

Political Scientist 

Hackenesch, Christine

Political Science 

Hilbrich, Sören


Hägele, Ramona

Political Scientist 

Iacobuta, Gabriela

Environmental Researcher 

Janus, Heiner

Political Science 

Keijzer, Niels

Social Science 

Kloke-Lesch, Adolf

Urban and regional planner 

Koch, Svea

Social Science 

Laudage, Sabine


Mathis, Okka Lou

Political Scientist 

Olekseyuk, Zoryana


Scholz, Imme


Schwachula, Anna


Srigiri, Srinivasa Reddy

Agricultural Economist 

Stender, Frederik


Vogel, Johanna

International Cultural Economy 

Wehrmann, Dorothea


Weinlich, Silke

Political Science