This is the author's peer-reviewed final manuscript, as accepted by the publisher. The published article is copyrighted by Elsevier and can be found at: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/ecological-economics/.Virtual water trade is increasingly recognized as a useful metaphor for thinking about freshwater resources in an international context. Its legitimacy in terms of economic theory has been questioned by a number of authors, however. In this article I develop new theoretical results that place the virtual water concept on a firm economic foundation, and which correct several misconceptions within the existing literature on virtual water economics
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