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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Blog

    Coronavirus Outbreak, Drones, the U.S. Power Grid: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the intensifying coronavirus outbreak, cyber threats from drones, the vulnerabilities of the U.S. power grid, and more.

    Mar 6, 2020

  • Blog

    Community Schools, Brexit, Coronavirus: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the promise of community schools, the costs of uncertainty after Brexit, the coronavirus, and more.

    Jan 31, 2020

  • U.S. President Donald Trump attends a bilateral meeting with China's President Xi Jinping during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Commentary

    How Not to Confront China

    There are several key reasons why current U.S. policy toward China may not help advance America's competitiveness or enlist much support abroad. Most notably, the administration has yet to explain what it ultimately hopes to accomplish.

    Sep 23, 2019

  • China and USA relations concept, photo by Rawf8/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Beyond Hawks and Doves: A Better Way to Debate U.S.–China Policy

    The best long-term outcome for U.S.–China relations may be one in which inexorably intensifying competition coexists with occasionally fruitful cooperation. It is not the most inspiring result, to be sure, but it is preferable to unconstrained antagonism.

    Sep 20, 2019

  • Blog

    E-Cigarettes, 'Stand Your Ground,' Cyber Coercion: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the planned federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes, “stand your ground” laws, understanding cyber coercion, and more.

    Sep 20, 2019

  • Blog

    Drug Spending, Back to School, Korean Unification: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap looks at illegal drug spending, the problem of waking up early for school, possible paths toward Korean unification, and more.

    Aug 23, 2019

  • Shipping containers at the port in San Pedro, California, March 22, 2018, photo by Bob Riha Jr./Reuters

    Commentary

    Trump's Tariffs Against China Aren't Working. And There's No Quick Resolution in Sight

    Washington's go-it-alone approach to its trade disputes with China is imposing a high and growing cost on the U.S. economy. It could even threaten global prosperity. What's more, there's no quick resolution in sight.

    Aug 20, 2019

  • Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in Parliament ahead of a Brexit vote, in London, Britain, March 13, 2019, photo by UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    Life After Brexit Need Not Be a Disaster for the UK

    Leaving the European Union without a deal will be costly for Britain. But there are actions that could be taken now to help improve the economic prospects of a fully independent UK.

    Mar 18, 2019

  • A man visits the Huawei Cyber Security Transparency Centre in Brussels, Belgium, March 5, 2019, photo by Yves Herman/Reuters

    Commentary

    Public Evidence of Huawei as a Cyber Threat May Be Elusive, but Restrictions Could Still Be Warranted

    Although a “smoking gun” of Huawei involvement in government-directed espionage remains elusive, the United States has compelling security and economic reasons to consider limiting the involvement of Chinese telecommunications companies in its domestic networks.

    Mar 7, 2019

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping meets former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 8, 2018

    Commentary

    Engagement vs. Competition: The China Policy Debate

    There is a consensus that the U.S. is engaged in an intensifying strategic competition with China. It's less clear what relationship the U.S. should seek and can plausibly achieve with its competitor. An inability to classify China along the ally-to-adversary continuum limits, if not precludes, America's ability to formulate a coherent strategy.

    Dec 31, 2018