Foreign Trade

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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.

  • Overhead view of a container ship in port, photo by CHUNYIP WONG/Getty Images

    Commentary

    RCEP Forms the World's Largest Trading Bloc. What Does This Mean for Global Trade?

    Dec 9, 2020

    In November, 15 nations signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free-trade agreement of economic and political significance eight years in the making. Why have some heralded RCEP as a landmark agreement?

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed sign the Abraham Accords in Washington, September 15, 2020, photo by Tom Brenner/Reuters

    Report

    The Abraham Accords Could Have Wide-Reaching Economic Benefits

    Mar 18, 2021

    The Abraham Accords between Israel and Muslim nations represent a possible new chapter in the region's development—away from conflict and toward a shared vision of economic prosperity. Israel's partners could gain 150,000 new jobs. And that could grow to 4 million new jobs over a decade if other nations join.

Explore International Trade

  • The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, a mausoleum in Pyongyang, North Korea, photo by narvikk/iStock

    Report

    How Does North Korea Evade Sanctions?

    The United Nations has imposed increasingly restrictive sanctions on North Korea after each of the six nuclear weapons tests that it conducted between 2009 and 2016. Enforcement has been mixed and North Korea has become adept at several techniques to evade sanctions.

    Sep 23, 2021

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting via video link from the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 21, 2020, photo by Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia Engine Troubles: Is Putin's Behavior Catching Up with Him?

    Actions taken to curb Russian malign activities around the globe appear to be affecting Russia's marine and aerospace engine sector. Efforts to arrest Russia's bad behavior might gain momentum if more countries followed the lead of Norway, which chose supporting sanctions over short-term economic gain.

    Jun 15, 2021

  • Workers at the construction site of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, near the town of Kingisepp, Leningrad region, Russia, June 5, 2019, photo by Anton Vaganov/Reuters

    Commentary

    Depoliticizing Russian Gas in Europe

    At their June 16 Summit in Geneva, Presidents Biden and Putin might consider how to reduce the sharp tensions over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. Cooperation among governments and companies may offer potential.

    Jun 11, 2021

  • People take part in the celebrations for the National Liberation Day near the Arch of Reunification in the city of Pyongyang, North Korea, August 14, 2005, photo by Yuri Maltsev/Reuters

    Commentary

    An Economic Blueprint for North Korea

    It would be simplistic to think that developing detailed blueprints for economic development in North Korea could on its own cut through decades of conflict and mistrust, triggering political and economic reform. But by expanding the terms of the debate it might move the needle on peace.

    Jun 4, 2021

  • People take part in the celebrations for the National Liberation Day near the Arch of Reunification in the city of Pyongyang, North Korea, August 14, 2005, photo by Yuri Maltsev/Reuters

    Report

    From Hermit Kingdom to Open for Business

    When the situation in North Korea becomes conducive to foreign investment and development, what might it take to kick-start the country's economy?

    May 25, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    The Flag Lags but Follows: The PLA and China's Great Leap Outward

    This chapter explores how China may protect its overseas interests, analyzes PLA thinking about the security dimensions of the Belt and Road Initiative, and considers three case studies on what securing China's overseas interests involves in concrete terms.

    May 18, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Improving Preferential Market Access Through Rules of Origin: Firm-Level Evidence from Bangladesh

    This paper studies how rules of origin in potential export markets influence the export behavior of firms in least-developed countries.

    Mar 23, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Rules of Origin and Trade Preference Utilization Among Least Developed Countries

    This article assesses how the utilization of trade agreements responds to rules of origin revisions that allow for more foreign content in exported products.

    Mar 23, 2021

  • South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a meeting in Seoul, December 04, 2019, photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Pool via Reuters

    Report

    The Geopolitics of South Korea–China Relations

    As Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific increases, U.S. allies and partners are adapting their strategic posture. But even as a key U.S. ally, South Korea seems different. How is Beijing’s growing influence in regional affairs affecting relations between South Korea and China? And what effect do they have on U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific?

    Nov 18, 2020

  • Arrows with UK and EU flag images pointing in opposite directions on the ground, with legs and shoes viewed from above, photo by Delpixart/Getty Images

    Commentary

    A Free Trade Agreement Still Comes with Costs

    Major issues must be resolved before any UK-EU agreement on post-Brexit trade and economic relations is completed. There will be substantial costs associated with even a zero-tariff trade deal.

    Oct 23, 2020

  • An American flag waving at sunset, photo by Emily Sisson/Getty Images

    Report

    How American Influence Has Declined, and What Can Be Done About It

    The United States has been declining in foreign policy achievements for two decades. Skeptics need to be persuaded that working for a more peaceful and prosperous world is in America's national and their personal interest. And sustained public support for international engagement requires cooperation across party lines.

    Sep 8, 2020

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a drill of long-range artillery sub-units of the Korean People's Army, March 2, 2020, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Report

    How Does North Korean Leadership Make Decisions?

    With talks between the United States and North Korea at a standstill, U.S. policymakers must consider what the regime might do next and know what signs or decisions to look for. Will Kim open the DPRK economy? What if conventional deterrence fails on the Korean Peninsula? And what could lead to the use of nuclear weapons?

    Aug 20, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Provision of an indicative, non-exhaustive list of conflict-affected and high-risk areas under Regulation 2017/821: Task A – Methodology development

    This report presents the methodology proposed by RAND Europe to produce an indicative, non-exhaustive, regularly updated list of CAHRAs under Regulation 2017/821.

    Jul 30, 2020

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (center) speaks in a videoconference with the heads of the European Union in London, UK, June 15, 2020, photo by Andrew Parsons/No10 Downing Street/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Cost of Brexit Uncertainty

    Leaving the European Union has had an overall negative economic effect on the UK economy, and there are additional economic costs associated with the uncertainty surrounding the new relationship. Will there be a deal? And if so, what type of deal is likely?

    Jul 8, 2020

  • A replica of China Railway high-speed trains at a media center for the second Belt and Road Forum, in Beijing, China, April 26, 2019, photo by Jason Lee/Reuters

    Commentary

    Demystifying the Belt and Road Initiative

    Under the Belt and Road Initiative, China works with more than 70 countries to design and implement large infrastructure projects. Why are countries of all stripes turning to China for funding when the world is awash with cash?

    Jul 6, 2020

  • ODF 2017, NSF, USAP, McMurdo Station, Antarctica, Cargo Operations

    Report

    Global Economic Trends and the Future of Warfare: The Changing Global Environment and Its Implications for the U.S. Air Force

    This volume of the Future of Warfare series examines economic trends that could affect U.S. national security, including pressure on the global trading system, the rise of China, searches for new resources, and the decreasing power of U.S. sanctions.

    May 11, 2020

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan hit a gong at the fourth Israel-China Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation meeting in Jerusalem, October 24, 2018, photo by Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

    Report

    Security Risks of China's Investments in Israel

    Chinese investments in Israeli high-tech companies and major infrastructure projects present distinct concerns for Israel and the United States. They could lead to leaks of sensitive technology and cyberespionage. And these risks could affect the U.S.-Israel relationship.

    Apr 7, 2020

  • A man wearing a mask walks through closed stores in Shanghai, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of a new coronavirus, February 4, 2020, photo by Aly Song/Reuters

    Testimony

    How Does COVID-19 Affect Small and Medium-Sized Businesses?

    In China, as in most countries, small and medium-sized enterprises are the engines of the economy. An analysis of China's response to the COVID-19 outbreak and how it has affected China's economy and the global supply chain provides useful insights for the U.S. government and businesses.

    Mar 10, 2020