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Free Trade and the Environment:
Mexico, NAFTA, and Beyond

By Kevin P. Gallagher
Stanford University Press, 2004; $42.50 Cloth; $16.95 paper
Order from Stanford University Press

“Gallagher moves the ‘trade and environment’ debate forward by bringing empirical evidence to bear on the question of whether expanded trade leads to environmental degradation or improvement. His data on changes in the Mexican environmental situation in the NAFTA context bring new clarity to a critical set of academic questions with important policy impacts.”

Daniel C. Esty, Director,
Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy

Free Trade and the Environment examines the impact economic integration has on the environment, focusing on Mexico, which transformed itself from one of the world's most closed economies to one of the most open. Mexico's experience offers a cautionary tale for governments and policy-makers considering the hotly debated relationship between globalization and the environment.

This volume investigates two commonly held and opposing beliefs in the policy community about the impact of free trade on the environment. While some argue that free trade will raise incomes in developing countries, thus encouraging governments to protect the environment, others argue that free trade simply provides an incentive for heavily-polluting firms to move to developing countries with lax environmental regulations. This volume shows that for Mexico neither position is correct, and concludes with a set of concrete recommendations for policies that couple environmental protection with economic integration.

Advance Praise for Free Trade and the Environment:

“Free Trade and the Environment is an insightful and carefully supported account of the links between Mexico’s recent economic performance and the environment. Kevin Gallagher confronts the two major opposing views that see trade as either inevitably leading to environmental catastrophe or as a magic solution for environmental management, and forcefully makes the case for strong institutions and well-crafted environmental policies.”

Eduardo Zepeda, UNDP International Poverty Center; co-editor of Confronting Development: Assessing Mexico’s Economic and Social Policy Choices

“This book provides a new and insightful analysis of the trade and environment relationship. Refuting common claims that liberalization leads to either an environmental Kuznets curve or the creation of pollution havens, Kevin Gallagher demonstrates that NAFTA brought significant environmental consequences in Mexico. His findings are particularly important as more countries move toward greater regional integration around the world.”

Konrad von Moltke, Senior Fellow,
International Institute for Sustainable Development

“Kevin Gallagher makes an outstanding contribution to the trade-environment debate, offering some real breakthroughs in thinking about the relationship between trade expansion and environmental protection. The lessons of Mexico and NAFTA are especially timely and will resonate with many countries throughout the Western Hemisphere."

Scott Vaughan, Director, Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment, Organization of American States

Read more: GDAE's Globalization and Sustainable Development Program

"Free Trade and the Environment: Mexico, NAFTA, and Beyond," by Kevin P. Gallagher, Americas Program Policy Brief, Interhemispheric Resource Center, September 17, 2004. (Published in Spanish in La Jornada en la Economia, August 9, 2004, "Libre Comercio y Ecologia: El Paraiso Contaminante."

Review of Free Trade and the Environment in Foreign Affairs magazine.

Order from Stanford University Press

About the author: Kevin P. Gallagher is Research Associate for the institute’s Research and Policy Program, and an assistant professor of international economics in the Department of International Relations at Boston University. Gallagher serves as GDAE’s principal investigator for the Globalization and Sustainable Development Program. His current research focuses on the economics and politics of economic integration in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in relation to industrial development in Mexico. He is the author of Free Trade and the Environment: Mexico, NAFTA, and Beyond. He has presented his work at the WTO, World Bank, OECD, ECLAC, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and at other international conferences on trade and investment policy, economic development, and the environment. He is also the co-editor of International Trade and Sustainable Development (with Jacob Werksman). Gallagher holds a Ph.D. in International Political Economy and a M.A. in International Environmental Policy from Tufts.

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