By Nick Atkinson
Longhorned beetles and other invasive species could soon feel the brunt of hard-nosed economics, if the authors of a paper published in Ecological Economics have got their sums right. Iowa State University professor of economics John Beghin and colleagues looked at the effect of trade tariff escalations—which protect exports of raw materials but suppress manufactured or processed goods—on the likelihood of invasive species arrival. Because unprocessed goods such as timber are far more likely to provide berths for stowaway aliens, biasing trade flows in their favor is likely to have unwelcome consequences. That beautifully finished coffee table, on the other hand, is completely pest-free. Beghin’s mathematical models show that reducing the tariff escalation faced by countries exporting both raw and processed products leads to that rarest of things, a win-win situation. Developing countries get to export higher value products, helping their economies, and developed countries enjoy a reduced risk of invasion.
Tua, A.T., J. Beghin, and E. Gozland. 2008. Tariff escalation and invasive species damages. Ecological Economics doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2008.01.013.