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North-South Trade and the Dynamics of Renewable Resources

Chichilnisky, Graciela

"The global environment can be described by the physical dynamics and the economic
use of the earth's resources. It has become, to a certain extent, a North-South issue.
Developing countries tend to specialize in the production and the export of goods which
deplete environmental resources such as rain forests, or minerals whose combustion leads to
the emission of greenhouse gases. Currently two thirds of the exports from Latin America are
resources, and resources make an even higher proportion of Africa's exports. Most of these
resources are imported and consumed by the industrial countries. For example, most of the
world's production of wood pulp is consumed in the industrial countries, as is the petroleum
exported by developing countries. The result is that industrial countries account for a large
majority of CO~ emissions. The US alone consumes 25-30% of the world's oil production
yearly. When trying to define precisely the concept of sustainable development we are led
therefore to question the role of international trade.
In practical terms: are trade policies
based on the traditional comparative advantages of developing countries compatible with
environmental preservation? Should the developing countries export more resource and land
intensive products such as agricultural goods? Or should a new vision of international trade,
one more consistent with the world's environment, replace the old?"

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Academic Units
Economics
Publisher
Department of Economics, Columbia University
Series
Department of Economics Discussion Papers, 644
Published Here
February 17, 2011

Notes

January 1993.

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