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Fending off waste from the west: The impact of China's Operation Green Fence on the international waste trade

Adomas Balkevicius, Mark Sanctuary and Sigita Zvirblyte

The World Economy, 2020, vol. 43, issue 10, 2742-2761

Abstract: China launched the first Operation Green Fence (OGF) on 1 February 2013 to fend off inflows of illegal waste. The main objective of OGF was to enforce waste trade policies already adopted by China and thereby restrict illegal waste imports. We use a gravity model of international trade with annual bilateral waste trade data at the 6‐digit HS code level to assess the impact of OGF on the international waste trade. First, we study the direct impact of OGF and find that the intervention resulted in a 26% drop in low‐quality waste exports to China from developed countries. Second, we assess the impact of OGF on exports from developed countries to developing countries, excluding China. We do not find a statistically significant effect of OGF on low‐quality waste exports from developed countries to developing countries (excluding China). We also test the waste haven hypothesis and do not find evidence that waste exports were disproportionately diverted to countries with lax environmental regulation.

Date: 2020
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