Book Project on Issue Linkage: Trade and the Environment

Issue Linkage and the Political Logic of Hybrid Coalitions:
the Linking of Trade Liberalization and Environmental Protection  

The U.S. and the E.U. have increasingly attached environmental protection clauses to Preferential Trade Agreements. Developing countries have accepted the issue linkage, expecting the linkage to facilitate the ratification of PTAs in the developed democracies. Scholarly understanding of issue linkage has focused on the thus described logrolling among state actors. This project scrutinizes the unexamined assumption on the effectiveness of domestic logrolling between activists and pro-trade businesses in the U.S. Because activists' power is dependent on time-sensitive public attention, they find it risky to exchange favors with pro-trade groups with concentrated and time-patient interests. I ask why some activists support trade deals in exchange for environmental protection clauses despite the inter-temporal commitment problem. This project shows how environmental IOs and green legislators in competitive electoral districts facilitate trade liberalization by brokering unlikely coalitions between activists and pro-trade groups.

Why do some activists support issue linkage despite the inter-temporal commitment problem? I argue that environmental IOs bridge the credibility gap: Activists with ties to IOs are better equipped to support linkage, because they can use the IOs to name-and-shame non-complying governments. Based on original data, I find that i) major NGOs with dense connections to IOs have consistently supported trade deals, and ii) the U.S. government lowers the credibility gap by delegating environmental provisions to environmental IOs, if the IOs have more ties with U.S.-based activists.

Does the linkage of environmental issues increase support for trade deals from legislators with green groups? Existing studies on issue linkage argue that it does. I advance a modified view that considers the effectiveness of issue linkage as mediated by electoral competition. I argue that legislators trusted by green groups increase their support for the linkage, when electoral competition in their districts intensifies. Unlike those in safe districts, green legislators facing competitive elections are tempted to raise donations from pro-trade businesses without losing support from green voters, who tend to be anti-trade. Given their incentives to keep both green voters and pro-trade donations, some activists’ support of issue linkage can serve as moral cover for supporting trade deals in legislatures.



This article examines when and how the U.S. government enforces environmental provisions in its trade agreements. I theorize that the government faces a dilemma in enforcing side clauses in trade agreements: pro-trade groups demand weak enforcement whereas environmental groups demand strong enforcement. Faced with the dilemma, I argue that the government's enforcement decisions follow ratification business cycles. Based on a case study of U.S. enforcement decisions from 2009 to 2016 and its trade agreement with Peru, I demonstrate that the government strategically implement strong enforcement measures prior to ratification of new trade agreements to weaken environmentalists' opposition to those agreements. In contrast, the government tends to adopt softer enforcement tools (i.e. technical assistance) when there are not any impending needs to expand pro-trade coalitions.

Policy: Does Attaching Environmental Issues to Trade Agreements Boost Support for Trade Liberalisation?


In this policy op-ed published by Bruegel, I argue that the omission of environmental issues in the new U.S.-E.U. trade talks may have negative effects on ratification of the new trade deal in the European Parliament. I analyze whether pro-climate individual Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) withheld their support for the streamlined trade talks. To control for their baseline attitudes on issue linkage, I include their stances on the TTIP, which had extensive mandates to negotiate provisions on climate change. All else equal, if a MEP is not supportive of a stronger climate policy, the MEP is predicted to support the trade talks without environmental mandates, with a likelihood of 83%. However, the predicted probability of approval drops to 40% if the MEP supports a stronger climate policy in line with the Paris Agreement.

Working Papers on Trade and FDI

Dynamic Responsiveness in the U.S. Congress: Evidence from NAFTA (with Michael Pomirchy & Bryan Schonfeld)

Do incumbent politicians adapt their policy positions in response to changes in public opinion? Existing studies of dynamic responsiveness cannot account for changes in the legislative agenda over time. We exploit an original dataset on the positions of members of Congress on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at various points leading up to the November 1993 roll-call vote, and generate original estimates of constituency (and sub-constituency) public opinion using multi-level regression and post-stratification (MRP). We track whether legislator positioning responds to changes in constituency opinion and also examine whether legislators are more responsive to co-partisan or affluent constituents (“differential dynamic responsiveness”). We find no evidence of responsiveness to the constituency median or to particular sub-constituencies. Our findings suggest a deficit of dynamic responsiveness in the United States Congress.                                     


Legalization for Survival:
Bureaucrats in Left-leaning Governments and Third Party Participation in the WTO


What explains WTO member countries’ decisions to participate in trade disputes as third parties? Why do they use the low publicity and low cost mechanism? In this paper, I advance a view that considers third party participation as a policy instrument to enhance bureaucratic autonomy from protectionist-leaning elected officials. Pro-trade officials have the incentive to legalize trade matters and gain discretion from protectionist politicians by technicalizing the issue area. I analyze the frequency of individual members' third party participation and dispute initiation. I find that left-leaning governments are more likely to participate in disputes as third parties. But, they are not more likely to initiate trade disputes than right-leaning governments.

When the Truth Hurts: The Conditional Effects of Information Clauses in BITs on FDI Inflows


I investigate how Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) enhance international cooperation by generating information that may otherwise remain private to individual governments. With a focus on twenty-eight Asia Pacific countries from 1982 to 2013, I constructed a data set recording how governments in those states designed information-related clauses in BITs. Based on the data, I study whether high information clauses indeed increase investment inflows more than low information clauses. Preliminary findings indicate that information clauses tend to decrease FDI inflows for governments with low levels of financial openness.  

Who Demands Delegation and Why? Issue Linkage in the European Parliament

Why do some legislators demand delegation to IOs in designing issue linkages in Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs)? This article examines the conditions under which Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) demand delegation to IOs in designing non-trade clauses in PTAs. Drawing from the European Parliament Archives, I analyze amendments proposed by MEPs in the Committee on International Trade from 2004 to 2014. I argue that MEPs tend to demand IO delegation to increase the support for their amendments from peer legislators in the committee. Empirically, I show that MEPs are more likely to demand IO delegation under two circumstances: if they are ideologically farther from the median of the committee, and if their constituencies’ preferences deviate from their party lines. By contrast, I find that ideology per se does not affect delegation proposals: right-leaning MEPs are equally likely to demand IO delegation as left-leaning MEPs in the committee. However, right-leaning MEPs frame delegation in protectionist terms, whereas left-leaning MEPs tend to highlight the altruistic aspect of IO delegation. While existing studies view delegation as a strategy to enhance the credibility of international agreements between negotiating parties, this article shows that IO delegation can be a political strategy to justify unpopular positions within legislatures. 

Home Advantage in the Politics of Shaming: Evidence from the OECD Guidelines (with Sooahn Shin)

Shaming is an important strategy to enforce global norms on multinational corporations (MNCs). Under what conditions do governments shame MNCs for violating international norms on human rights and the environment? This article analyzes the relationship between NGOs' demands for shaming and home governments' responses. Drawing from novel data on specific instances of alleged violations of the OECD Guidelines, we show that NGOs with a home country presence enjoy a unique advantage in pressuring governments to condemn MNCs for norm violations. In contrast, the involvement of transnational NGOs with strong international profiles or NGOs with a host country presence does not increase the likelihood of shaming. This is because NGOs with a home country presence are better able to gain access to bureaucrats in governments in the process of mobilization. This article shows that NGOs' domestic presence constitutes an important part of the enforcement of global business norms.