International Economic Relations

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Increased international trade, and the lowering of barriers to such trade, frequently results in improved international relations, but it can also lead to trade wars and tariff disputes. RAND research explores bilateral and multilateral economic relations; describes how they affect global alliances, globalization, and the economic health of nations; and recommends methods to develop, encourage, and maintain these relations among diverse nations and cultures.

  • Shipping containers at a port in Shanghai, China, July 10, 2018

    Commentary

    The U.S.-China Trade War: Different Messages

    Jul 20, 2018

    The trade war between the United States and China began with the notification of tariffs on $34 billion of traded goods on each side. Officials on both sides of the Pacific are using different messages to convey the dispute. What are the real impacts likely to be?

  • David Davis, Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the EU (left), and Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, talk to the media ahead of negotiations in Brussels, Belgium, September 25, 2017

    Report

    Potential Impacts of Brexit on UK, EU, U.S. Economies

    Dec 12, 2017

    The UK economy is likely to suffer under the most probable post-Brexit trade scenarios. Leaving the EU with no deal would make the UK nearly 5 percent poorer in 2029 than if it had remained. The most beneficial scenario would be a trilateral UK-EU-U.S. agreement, but that is unlikely in the current political environment.

Explore International Economic Relations

  • U.S. President Trump arrives to announce his decision to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, May 8, 2018

    Commentary

    Bringing Back Sanctions Will Hurt U.S. Allies and Iran, but Will It Help America?

    What happens if leaving the Iran nuclear deal and applying “maximum pressure” doesn't lead Iran to change its behavior or the regime to collapse? The Trump administration may find that it's much easier to break a deal than to replace it with something better.

    Aug 7, 2018

  • Members of the United Nations Security Council during a meeting at the U.N. headquarters in New York, April 14, 2018

    Commentary

    The Roots—and Purpose—of the Post-War Order

    As the world enters an era of greater international competition, U.S. policymakers should take care not to underestimate the importance of the postwar system. The order is far from a myth; it is the United States' most important competitive advantage.

    Aug 7, 2018

  • The U.S. Navy destroyer USS John S. McCain conducts a patrol in the South China Sea, January 22, 2017

    Commentary

    The Security Risks of a Trade War with China

    As U.S.-China trade tensions continue to rise, many observers are focused on the potential for a full-fledged trade war that could destabilize the world economy. But there are security concerns as well. A China less constrained by and invested in economic ties with the United States could pose a greater challenge to U.S. foreign policy.

    Aug 6, 2018

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi talk as they visit the Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan, China, April 27, 2018

    Commentary

    Is India the Weakest Link in the Quad?

    India's sustained membership in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue would fit with the goal of balancing against China to deter it from further militarizing the Indo-Pacific. But New Dehli may be getting cold feet.

    Jul 23, 2018

  • The Christophe de Margerie (R), an ice-class tanker fitted out to transport liquefied natural gas, is docked in Arctic port of Sabetta, Yamalo-Nenets district, Russia March 30, 2017

    Commentary

    Cooperation in the Arctic Likely to Continue—For Now

    Risks for serious tensions in the Arctic during the 2020s are likely to be overstated. Key players in the Arctic appear likely to continue working together to enhance the economic potential of the region and resolve conflicts before they emerge, as opportunities in the Arctic continue to grow.

    Jul 12, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russia's President Vladimir Putin during their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017

    Commentary

    Trump and Putin Should Start Small at Helsinki Summit

    Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will hold their first formal summit on July 16. Their agenda will likely include the main sources of strain in relations, but they might find it easier to make concrete progress if they start with lower-profile issues as Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan did at their first summit.

    Jul 2, 2018

  • Turkish and Israeli flags fly atop the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, June 26, 2016

    Report

    Israeli-Turkish Ties Face Formidable Challenges

    Israel and Turkey have mutual economic interests, such as trade, tourism, and energy. The two countries have usually been able to separate these interests from their political differences, but current relations remain contentious. Israel and Turkey differ on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the future of Syria.

    Jun 27, 2018

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks as China's new Politburo Standing Committee members meet with the press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, October 25, 2017

    Commentary

    Book Review: Elizabeth Economy's The Third Revolution

    The United States' attitude towards China is undergoing a significant recalibration, perhaps the most fundamental since Beijing's crackdown at Tiananmen Square almost three decades ago. Harnessing its resurgence while tempering its revisionism will likely be Washington's most vexing long-term policy challenge.

    Jun 26, 2018

  • World flags

    Commentary

    The Need for Superpowers to Embrace a Vision of World Affairs

    A superpower promotes a conception of world affairs that attracts others, enabling it to advance its objectives and amplify its values far more than it could on its own. Washington has a significant edge over Beijing in this regard.

    Jun 21, 2018

  • Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, and Australia's Defence Minister Marisa Payne meet on the sidelines at the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, June 2, 2018

    Commentary

    The Quad: Second Verse, Same as the First?

    Members of “the Quad”—an informal collaborative arrangement among the United States, Japan, India, and Australia—have proven incapable of adopting either a shared understanding of or unified policies toward China.

    Jun 15, 2018

  • G7 leaders take part in a working session on the first day of the G7 meeting in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018

    Commentary

    Why Russia Should Not Rejoin the G7

    Even were it to disgorge the parts of Ukraine that it seized in 2014, Russia still would not qualify for reentry into the G8. An aspirational case for Russian membership might be made, but only if Russia's leadership aspires to democratic government and an open free market economy. At the moment there is no sign of such an aspiration.

    Jun 13, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump signs a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, D.C. May 8, 2018

    Commentary

    Assessing Transatlantic Fallout After the U.S. Withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal

    The U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal has set off another round of reflection on the state and future of the transatlantic alliance. Though this dispute may not in itself lead to a full breach in the transatlantic relationship, it joins a growing list of sharp disagreements impacting U.S. alliances.

    May 31, 2018

  • China's flag made over digital tiles

    Report

    China's Role in the International Order

    China's engagement with the postwar order remains a complex, often contradictory work in progress. China will likely demand more influence in the international system as a condition for its support. What will this mean for U.S. policy?

    May 21, 2018

  • Iranian flag

    Commentary

    Regime Appears Fragile as Iranians Turn Much of Their Ire Inward

    Economic hardship is fueling unrest in Iran. New sanctions stemming from the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal may exacerbate already difficult conditions. Now might be the time to exert maximum pressure on the regime in an effort to bring Tehran back to the negotiating table.

    May 21, 2018

  • World flags

    Commentary

    Book Review: The Sovereignty Wars by Stewart Patrick

    “Sovereignty” is a complicated, multifaceted construct. The Sovereignty Wars is a timely and meticulous effort by author Stewart Patrick to clarify that concept, whose usage is a matter of both analytical interest and policymaking import.

    May 17, 2018

  • Shipping containers at Pier J at the Port of Long Beach wait for processing in Long Beach, California, U.S., April 4, 2018

    Commentary

    Do States Need Their Own Trade Policies?

    Now would not be the first time California's business and trade interests haven't aligned with those of Washington. While it's the federal government, not California, that sets American trade policy, there are steps those in California could consider in order to optimize for trade opportunities abroad.

    May 13, 2018

  • U.S. President Trump just before signing a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, May 8, 2018

    Commentary

    The Strategic Fallout of U.S. Withdrawal from the Iran Deal

    President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement. What will happen next? Friction between the United States and its European allies will likely increase, while Iran moves closer to China and Russia. Also, the resentment of a new generation of Iranians toward America is likely to grow.

    May 10, 2018

  • Report

    Managing International Borders: Balancing Security with the Licit Flow of People and Goods

    This Perspective builds on global best practices and lessons learned from other established border management solutions and proposes opportunities to strengthen security while improving the flow of travelers and goods.

    May 9, 2018

  • U.S. President Trump holds up a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement after signing it at the White House, May 8, 2018

    Commentary

    The U.S. Is Out of the Iran Deal. What Now?

    Abandoning the nuclear agreement with Iran isolates the United States, reneges on an American commitment, adds to the risk of a trade war with U.S. allies and a hot war with Iran, and diminishes the prospects of an agreement to eliminate the North Korean threat.

    May 9, 2018

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