The past decade has witnessed a proliferation of texts on trade and pollution. Compared with this rapidly expanding literature, there are relatively few contributions on trade and renewable resource management. This imbalance in the economics literature is not readily explained by lack of popular interest. The impact of trade liberalisation on renewable resource management and conservation is a highly contentious issue, fiercely debated outside academia by international bodies (e.g. the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the International Tropical Timber Organization, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank), non-governmental organizations (e.g. TRAFFIC, the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth) and the popular media (e.g. The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Environment and New Scientist). Mass demonstrations against globalisation and the freeing of world trade in recent years in Genoa, Copenhagen, Seattle and other cities hosting meetings of international policy-makers dominated the news worldwide, and the alleged negative impact of free trade on environmental resources was a major theme during these demonstrations.
While the topic ‘trade and renewable resources’ might be capable of arousing strong emotions in the public, it is a fair question to ask whether it is sufficiently different from other fields in economics to warrant attention as a separate and emerging academic field (albeit obviously an applied one). We argue that this is indeed the case.
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