Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study


Trade, Consumption Pollution and Tax


Consumption is an important source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This study theoretically analyzes how trade liberalization and consumption tax affect firm locations across countries and GHG emissions originating from consumption. Introducing consumption-originated emissions in a standard footloose capital model, we find several novel results that extend previous analyses of production-originated GHG emissions. First, trade liberalization has a non-monotonic effect on global emissions; that is, as trade costs decline, global emissions initially decrease and then increase. Second, consumption taxes cause carbon leakage; that is, the tax on one country reduces emissions in that country, while increasing it in the rest of the world. Third, optimal consumption taxes that maximize global welfare must be neutral about firm location decisions. In particular, even if firms are asymmetrically distributed across countries in the absence of a consumption tax, the optimal tax level must be identical across countries.

Report No.: HIAS-E-106
Author(s): Haitao Cheng (a)
Affiliation: (a) Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University
Issued Date:  April 2021
Keywords: Asymmetric market sizes; Consumption pollution; Consumption tax harmonization;
Footloose capital model; Trade liberalization
JEL: F18; Q54; Q58