Ulph, A. and Valentini, L.
Plant location and strategic environmental policy with intersectoral linkages
Resource and Energy Economics, 19, (4), . (doi:10.1016/S0928-7655(97)00017-1).
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In recent debates on trade liberalisation the concern has often been expressed that with more competitive international trade governments will be worried that by setting tougher environmental policies than their trading rivals they will put domestic producers at a competitive disadvantage, and in the extreme case this could lead to firms relocating production in other countries. The response by governments to such concerns will be to weaken environmental policies (‘eco-dumping’). In competitive markets such concerns are ill founded, but there is a small amount of literature which has analysed whether governments will indeed have incentives for eco-dumping in the more relevant case of markets where there are significant scale economies; even here there is no presumption that the outcome will involve eco-dumping.
In this paper we extend the analysis of strategic environmental policy and plant location decisions by analysing the location decision of firms in different sectors which are linked through an input-output structure of intermediate production. The reason why we introduce inter-sectoral linkages between firms is that they introduce an additional factor, relative to those already analysed in the literature, in the plant location decision, which is the incentive for firms in different sectors to agglomerate in a single location. This has a number of important effects. First, there is now the possibility of multiple equilibria in location decisions of firms. Following from this there is the possibility of catastrophic effects where a small increase in an environmental tax can trigger the collapse of an industrial base in a country; however there is also the possibility that a country which raises its environmental tax could attract more firms to locate in that country, because of the way the tax affects incentives for agglomeration. Finally, and again related to the previous effects, there is the possibility of a hysteresis effect where raising an environmental tax in one country can cause firms to relocate to another country, but subsequently lowering that tax will not induce firms to relocate back into the original country.
We consider a simple model with two countries, two industries, an upstream and a downstream sector, and two firms per industry. The analysis proceeds through a three-stage game: in the first stage the governments of the two countries set their environmental policies; in the second stage the firms in both industries choose how many plants to locate and where; in the third stage firms choose their output levels, with the demand for the upstream firms being determined endogenously by the production decisions of the downstream firms. We assume that there are no limits to production capacity, so that firms do not build more than one plant in any country. However, firms may build plants in different countries because of positive transport costs. Although the model appears very simple, it cannot be solved analytically, so all the conclusions must be drawn from numerical simulations.
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