Trade and sustainability: the impact of the International Tropical Timber Agreements on exports

Abstract

Environmental sustainability standards are often portrayed as a hindrance to trade and growth. A set of novel international environmental agreements (IEAs), the International Tropical Timber Agreements (ITTAs), seeks to promote both. The ITTAs encourage international trade for member nations while requiring sustainable timber practices. This paper uses the ITTAs as a case study to examine whether IEAs can lead to environmental cooperation at the same time as increasing trade. Membership in both the 1983 and 1994 ITTAs is examined for an effect on timber exports. The analysis is conducted using panel data for 165 countries between 1970 and 2011 while controlling for year fixed effects, country fixed effects and country-specific trend terms. Estimated ITTA effects vary by ITTA year, timber category and country type. Logs exports fell for both tropical and non-tropical country members, but these decreases were offset by increases in other timber category exports. Tropical country members increased plywood exports, while non-tropical country ITTA members increased exports of sawn wood and veneer sheets. Total exports of targeted timber were unaffected in non-tropical member countries, while the 1983 ITTA increased total exports for tropical countries. These results together suggest that the sustainability clauses entailed in ITTAs have not decreased total timber exports from member countries, but have shifted exports across timber categories.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Of the 1000 votes held in common by the producing members, 400 were to be equally distributed between the three producing regions, with each region distributing the votes allocated to it equally among its members; 300 votes were to be distributed among the producing members in accordance with the respective shares of the total forest resources of all the producing members, and the remaining 300 in proportion to the average of the values of their net tropical timber exports during the most recent 3 years (Poore 2003, p. 36).

  2. 2.

    ITTO’s economic information and market intelligence action program is concerned with improving the flow of tropical timber from producers and consumers; it is designed to assist member countries in understanding and growing markets for tropical timber and other tropical forest goods and services. The program includes work on timber trade and market data, market access, forest certification, ecosystem services, forest law enforcement and the marketing of tropical timber and non-timber products, among other things http://www.itto.int/economic_market/.

  3. 3.

    Tropical countries are defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, who regard a nation as tropical if part or all of its landmass lies between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn (Davis et al. 1986).

  4. 4.

    www.faostat3.fao.org/download/F/FT/E.

  5. 5.

    For our purposes, logs are represented by industrial roundwood, that is “[All] roundwood except wood fuel. [It] is an aggregate comprising sawlogs and veneer logs; pulpwood, round and split; and other industrial roundwood. It is reported in cubic meters solid volume underbark (i.e., excluding bark). It excludes: telephone poles.”

    FAOSTAT-Forestry, Forest Products Definitions, document online: www.fao.org/forestry/34572-0fd5f2e523e4bc6251731c6101376d75e.pdf.

  6. 6.

    Coniferous: “All woods derived from trees classified botanically as Gymnospermae, e.g., Abies spp., Araucaria spp., Cedrus spp., Chamaecyparis spp., Cupressus spp., Larix spp., Picea spp., Pinus spp., Thuja spp., Tsuga spp., etc.”

    These are generally referred to as softwoods.

    Non-Coniferous: “All woods derived from trees classified botanically as Angiospermae, e.g., Acer spp., Dipterocarpus spp., Entandrophragma spp., Eucalyptus spp., Fagus spp., Populus spp., Quercus spp., Shorea spp., Swietonia spp., Tectona spp., etc.”

    These are generally referred to as broadleaves or hardwoods.

    FAOSTAT-Forestry, Forest Products Definitions, document online: http://www.fao.org/forestry/34572-0fd5f2e523e4bc6251731c6101376d75e.pdf.

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Correspondence to Helen Naughton.

Appendix

Appendix

Sample of countries

Table A1 Tropical countries in the sample
Table A2 Non-tropical countries in the sample

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Houghton, K., Naughton, H. Trade and sustainability: the impact of the International Tropical Timber Agreements on exports. Int Environ Agreements 17, 755–778 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10784-017-9373-x

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Keywords

  • International treaties
  • International trade
  • Timber

JEL Classification

  • F18
  • F53
  • Q56