Do greener trade agreements call for side-payments?

Brandi, Clara / Jean-Frédéric Morin / Stender, Frederik
External Publications (2022)

in: Journal of Environment and Development 31 (2), 111-138

Open access

Preferential trade agreements (PTAs) increasingly include environmental provisions. While the existing literature documents these provisions’ environmental impacts, this paper sheds light on their relation with aid flows. Using an event-specification and data on bilateral Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments for a sample of 147 developing country recipients in the period from 2002 to 2017, we find evidence that the number of environmental provisions in PTAs is positively associated with aid during negotiation phases. With high-income countries typically pre-determining the extent of environmental provisions in their upcoming PTAs, this suggests that aid serves as a side-payment for recipients to sweeten the pot and agree upon already formulated PTA content. While both aggregate ODA and its subcomponent environmental aid a priori qualify as candidates for pre-signature side-payments, we find that only the former fulfills this expectation, presumably reflecting more leeway to exploit aid fungibility.

About the authors

Brandi, Clara

Economy and Political Science


Stender, Frederik



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