International Commerce


International trade—business conducted across national borders—drives GDP and directly and indirectly affects global alliances, globalization, and the economic health of nations. RAND research has examined international trade in contexts as diverse as arms trafficking, the drug trade, international nuclear commerce, trade unions, the U.S.-China trade deficit, and economic investment in Ukraine.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin exchanges documents with his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, December 22, 2014, photo by Alexei Druzhinin/Reuters/RIA Novosti/Kremlin


    Can Eurasian Energy Compete?

    Jan 16, 2015

    Cheaper oil, government interference, and market dynamics jeopardize the future of Russian and Caspian energy. To be globally competitive, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan should let the private sector play a greater role and make more decisions on commercial, rather than political grounds.

  • Forex - British and Euro currency pair with calculator, photo by Jonathan Lim Yong Hian/Fotolia


    Lack of Complete European Integration Costs Countries, EU

    Oct 21, 2014

    The removal of existing barriers to foreign direct direct investment and non-tariff trade barriers within the European Union could boost total intra-EU merchandise exports up to 7 per cent in the long-term. These effects would vary by Member State, and by sector of the internal market.

Explore International Trade

  • World map with global communication lines.


    The Made-in-America Global Security and Economic System Still Serves U.S. Interests

    The next U.S. president will have many willing partners and an opportunity to expand the global system of security and economic institutions in a way that will help the United States and the world for decades.

    Oct 26, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama (center) poses for photo with numerous Asian leaders before the East Asia Summit in Vientiane, Laos, September 8, 2016


    The Legacy Obama Leaves His Successor in Asia

    The U.S. pivot to the Indo-Pacific has improved U.S. popularity and influence, and positioned it for gains in regional economic, diplomatic, and military cooperation. The incoming administration would be wise to embrace these gains and build on them to preserve and further develop U.S. interests and influence in the region.

    Oct 26, 2016

  • News Release

    Re-establishing Border Controls in Europe Could Cost Up to €3 Billion a Year

    Re-establishing border controls across Europe would cost €2 to 3 billion in annual operating costs, plus fixed one-off costs of anywhere between €0.1 and €19 billion. There would also be significant social and political costs.

    Oct 13, 2016

  • A memorial stone for the Schengen Agreement is seen in the small village of Schengen, Luxembourg January 27, 2016


    Why Re-Establishing Border Controls in Europe Could Come at a High Cost

    Reversing the Schengen agreement would come at a high economic cost, while undoing many of the positive social and political developments of the past decade.

    Oct 13, 2016

  • Protesters hold a banner reading 'We are all citizens of the world, no frontier, no borders' in Ventimiglia, Italy, August 7, 2016

    Journal Article

    The Costs of Reintroducing Border Controls in Europe

    The Schengen Agreement in 1985 led to the end of border controls across 26 European nations. Reintroducing these controls would cost billions of euros in economic costs. Social and political costs would also be substantial.

    Oct 12, 2016

  • World map concept with puzzle pieces


    Election 2016: The International Issues

    America's next president will face challenges that test the fundamentals of world order. RAND experts have outlined key decisions, the dangers involved, and the least-bad options that now often pass for good ones.

    Oct 7, 2016

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    Conversations at RAND: Howard J. Shatz on the International Economy

    One of the contentious issues in this year's presidential election campaign is the U.S. role in the global economy. A RAND panel offers strategies for the next president, who will face a troubled landscape.

    Oct 5, 2016

  • Journal Article

    Brexit: What Have We Learned So Far?

    On 23 June 2016, the British electorate defied the expectations of political leaders, financial markets and foreign allies by voting to withdraw from the European Union.

    Sep 26, 2016

  • Border fence between San Diego, California, U.S. and Tijuana, Mexico


    Why a Border Wall Would Do Little Besides Waste Money

    A wall along the U.S. border with Mexico would not eliminate illegal migration, its maintenance and monitoring would be costly, and it would likely be undermined by tunnelers. Also, severing legitimate cross-border movements for trade and tourism would be tremendously damaging to the U.S. economy.

    Sep 26, 2016

  • F-15E Strike Eagles, assigned to the 494th Fighter Squadron from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, rest on the flightline at Los Llanos Air Base, Spain, September 16, 2016


    Economic Benefits of U.S. Overseas Security Commitments Appear to Outweigh Costs

    U.S. policymakers should carefully weigh the potential losses against the potential gains when considering the desirability of large-scale retrenchments of U.S. overseas security commitments.

    Sep 23, 2016

  • News Release

    Cutting U.S. Overseas Security Commitments Could Cost U.S. World Trade Billions

    Reducing U.S. overseas security commitments, including troops and security treaties, could lead to greatly reduced trade, with the economic costs estimated to be more than triple any associated savings in U.S. defense spending.

    Sep 22, 2016

  • Research Brief

    Economic Benefits of U.S. Overseas Security Commitments Could Far Outweigh Costs

    Amid intensifying debate over U.S. funding and resources, RAND researchers find that the economic benefits of U.S. overseas security commitments could far exceed the costs.

    Sep 22, 2016

  • Tool

    Estimating the Value of Overseas Security Commitments: An Interactive Visualization

    Researchers estimated that U.S. economic losses from major retrenchments of overseas security commitments would be more than triple any gains. This visualization compares different estimated gains and losses from selected retrenchment levels and selected tax, spending, and trade multipliers.

    Sep 22, 2016

  • A formation of C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft fly in formation as they return from the Samurai Surge training mission near Mount Fuji, Japan, June 5, 2012


    The Value of Overseas Security Commitments

    U.S. overseas security commitments have positive and significant effects on both U.S. bilateral trade and non-U.S. global bilateral trade. If commitments were reduced, the economic costs from lost trade would be more than triple any associated savings in defense spending.

    Sep 22, 2016

  • A ship is unloaded using Super Post Panamax cranes in Miami, Florida, May 19, 2016


    Eliminating Jobs or Strengthening the Economy? The Impact of Trade Policies on the American Worker

    The enormous benefits of trade include economic growth, more variety for industry and consumers, and lower prices. But trade can displace some American workers. Training programs, relocation assistance, and wage insurance can help.

    Aug 30, 2016

  • Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi meet at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, in Beijing, China, April 30, 2016


    Do Economic Ties Limit the Prospect of Conflict?

    China has grown stronger economically and militarily over the past 35 years and has become more assertive. Its trade and investment links with Japan are substantial but they have been declining, and are less of a constraint on conflict than before.

    Aug 9, 2016

  • U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.


    A Summer Reading List for Congress

    To help Hill staffers make the most of the Congressional recess, RAND has developed a list of must-read research and commentaries that will help ensure policymakers will return ready to hit the ground running.

    Aug 2, 2016

  • RAND senior economist Howard Shatz discussing his report, U.S. International Economic Strategy in a Turbulent World, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., June 21, 2016


    Froman and Shatz Discuss U.S. Trade Policies, Brexit Implications

    Days before British citizens voted to exit the EU, RAND experts and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman gathered to discuss U.S. international economic policies that can expand strategic options, as well as the potential implications of Brexit.

    Jul 13, 2016

  • A drilling rig at the Imilorskoye oil field, outside the West Siberian city of Kogalym, Russia, January 25, 2016


    Prospects for Russia's Economic Growth

    Without major policy changes, the Russian economy will grow slowly in the medium term, even if world market prices for oil rebound sharply. However, returning to policies that Russia has pursued in the recent past could lead to substantially higher rates of growth.

    Jun 22, 2016

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    U.S. International Economic Policies That Can Expand Strategic Options

    In a fast-changing world, should the United States strengthen its links with the international economy or pull back? RAND Senior Economist Howard Shatz and Ambassador Michael Froman explore this question at the book launch for the latest volume in RAND's Strategic Rethink series. Ambassador Charles Ries moderates the discussion.

    Jun 21, 2016