An official website of the United States government.

This is not the current EPA website. To navigate to the current EPA website, please go to This website is historical material reflecting the EPA website as it existed on January 19, 2021. This website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work. More information »

Working Paper: Optimal Border Policies for Invasive Species under Asymmetric Information

Paper Number: 2010-03

Document Date: 03/26/2010

Author(s): Linda Fernandez and Glenn Sheriff

Subject Area(s): Pollution Control Options and Economic Incentives; International Trade

Keywords: asymmetric information; inspection; international trade; invasive species

Abstract: This paper analyzes border protection policies for managing risk of unintended imports of invasive species. Previous work typically assumes invasive species risk to be exogenous and commonly known. Here, we examine cases in which endogenous actions (exporter abatement) affect risk and allow for unobservable differences in exporter abatement cost. We show how the optimal inspection/penalty regime differs in such cases from that derived for homogeneous exporters. The information asymmetry also makes it optimal for the regulator to provide technical assistance grants even if it would be otherwise inefficient to do so. Further, we show that the fungibility of technical assistance with inputs in other sectors of the exporting economy significantly affects the qualitative nature of the optimal policy. If it has no outside value in the exporter’s country, the optimal policy is characterized by a menu of contracts trading off higher tariffs with lower penalties for being caught with an invasive. If technical assistance can be used in other sectors of the exporter’s economy, it introduces countervailing incentives that make it optimal for the regulator to use a uniform tariff/penalty combination for all exporters.

Published: Fernandez, Linda, and Glenn Sheriff. 2013. "Optimal border policies for invasive species under asymmetric information." Environmental and Resource Economics 56(1):27-45.

This paper is part of the Environmental Economics Working Paper Series.

You may need a PDF reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.