The Trade Effects of Phasing Out Fossil-Fuel Consumption Subsidies

Attributed Authors: Jean-Marc Burniaux, Jean Chateau and Jehan Sauvage Published: Sep 2011

This report draws on previous OECD work to assess the impact on international trade of phasing out fossil fuel consumption subsidies provided mainly by developing and emerging economies. The analysis employed the OECD’s ENV-Linkages General-Equilibrium model and used the IEA’s estimates of consumer subsidies, which measure the gap existing between the domestic prices of fossil fuels and an international reference benchmark. It shows that a co-ordinated multilateral removal of fossil-fuel consumption subsidies over the 2013-2020 period would increase global trade volumes by a very small amount (0.1%) by 2020. While seemingly negligible, this increase hides the large disparities that are observed across countries (or regions) and products. Under the central scenario, which assumes a multilateral subsidy removal over the 2013-2020 period, trade in natural gas would be most affected, with a 6% decrease by 2020. A reduction in the volume of both imports and exports from oil-exporting countries would be partly compensated by an expansion of trade flows (both imports and exports) involving OECD countries. This reallocation of trade flows would be most prevalent in products of energy-intensive industries. Looking beyond 2020, the contribution of oil-exporting countries to total world trade volumes would continue to be lower in 2050 than under the reference scenario.

Tags: trade OECD consumer subsidies subsidy reform fossil fuel subsidies