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.

  • Representations of cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum, DogeCoin, Ripple, and Litecoin placed on a PC motherboard, June 29, 2021, photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Commentary

    Cryptocurrency Should Be Added to the U.S.-Japan Trade Deal

    Jul 28, 2021

    As the Biden administration begins to define its approach to international trade, and the Suga administration looks to further tighten cooperation with the United States, it may be worth reconsidering the exclusion of cryptocurrency from the U.S.-Japan trade deal. Substantial economic equities are at stake for both sides.

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin during a videoconference meeting with members of the Lomonosov Moscow State University Board of Trustees at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, December 24, 2020, photo by Mikhail Klimentyev/Reuters

    Commentary

    Sanctions Targeting Russia's Defense Sector: Will They Influence Its Behavior?

    May 20, 2021

    In response to recent Russian cyber espionage, interference in U.S. elections, and the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, President Biden announced a new round of sanctions and expulsions of Russian officials. But will these sanctions hurt Russia's defense industry enough to curb the Kremlin's behavior?

Explore International Economic Relations

  • News Release

    News Release

    To Protect Overseas Interests, China Likely to Rely More on Contractors and Host Nation Forces Than Its Own Military

    China is far less likely to involve its military in security activities abroad than has been the case for the United States or for imperial powers of previous centuries. To bolster security for the Belt and Road Initiative and other economic activities abroad, China will instead rely heavily on civilian contractors and host nation-provided forces, with Chinese military and paramilitary forces playing an important but limited role.

    Mar 27, 2018

  • A U.S. gunnery officer discusses techniques with Chinese sailors before a joint counter-piracy exercise in the Gulf of Aden, August 24, 2013

    Report

    How China Is Pursuing Overseas Security

    Thousands of China's commercial enterprises are located overseas. Millions of its citizens travel abroad each year. To protect its interests from maritime piracy, civil conflict, and other threats, China is likely to rely more on contractors and host nation forces than its own military. What will this mean for the United States?

    Mar 27, 2018

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with co-chairs of his campaign office at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 19, 2018

    Commentary

    Putin Can Learn from Gorbachev on How to Gain from Future U.S. Talks

    Vladimir Putin has won a flawed election to a fourth term as Russia's president, and Donald Trump has suggested the two will likely meet soon. For the Kremlin leader, however, a summit may draw shortcomings into sharper relief. If the two presidents meet, several key issues will await them.

    Mar 22, 2018

  • Report

    Report

    Getting Out from "In-Between": Perspectives on the Regional Order in Post-Soviet Europe and Eurasia

    The perspectives collected in these conference proceedings explore alternatives to the current approaches to the regional order for the states "in between" the West and Russia -- Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

    Mar 8, 2018

  • U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) meets with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the State Department in Washington, U.S., February 8, 2018

    Commentary

    Book Review: Safe Passage: The Transition from British to American Hegemony

    In Safe Passage: The Transition from British to American Hegemony Kori Schake discusses the world's peaceful transition from British Empire to United States preeminence. She also considers the implications of her analysis for the present dynamics between a preeminent United States and a resurgent China.

    Mar 7, 2018

  • Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a speech about her vision for Brexit at Mansion House in London, Britain, March 2, 2018

    Commentary

    A Brexit Do-Over?

    European Union member states have a method for dealing with unsatisfactory referendums, called a do-over. A Brexit do-over would be complicated—all 27 other EU members would have to agree—but since Britain leaving is also disadvantageous for the rest of the EU, they have incentives to welcome back the prodigal.

    Mar 6, 2018

  • Trade ministers and delegates from the remaining members of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) attend the TPP Ministerial Meeting during the APEC 2017 in Da Nang, Vietnam November 9, 2017

    Commentary

    The Danger of Might Without Power

    A more forceful U.S. posture in the Asia-Pacific would likely strengthen America's long-term position in the region. The effort should rehabilitate key bilateral alliances, especially with Tokyo and Seoul, and compete with or at least supplement the roster of economic initiatives that China is advancing across the region.

    Feb 28, 2018

  • U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announces North Korea-related sanctions, Washington, D.C., February 23, 2018

    Commentary

    North Korean Sanctions to Make for Interesting U.S.-China Trade Talks

    With one of China's top officials arriving in Washington for trade talks, this might not be the best time to impose additional tariffs on Chinese exports, as the Trump administration has been threatening.

    Feb 28, 2018

  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) shakes hands with Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif (L) at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on September 8, 2017 in Beijing, China

    Commentary

    What Next for China-Pakistan Relations?

    The recent downgrade in U.S.-Pakistan relations will present both opportunities and challenges for China. Beijing can use the recent strain to promote a new model of international development, but must be wary of becoming the sole external power responsible for maintaining stability in the region.

    Feb 26, 2018

  • A health ministry worker fumigates a public park during a campaign against dengue, chikungunya and Zika in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico April 4, 2017

    Commentary

    Can America Afford to Reduce Global Public Health Funding?

    The United States may be preparing to downsize funding for global epidemic prevention. Without renewed funding, the long-term outlook could include an increased likelihood of global disease outbreaks.

    Feb 8, 2018

  • U.S. and Chinese officials meet prior to the U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in Washington, D.C., June 21, 2017

    Commentary

    The Competition for Status Could Increase the Risk of a Military Clash in Asia

    The prospect of conflict involving China remains remote, and Beijing remains committed to peaceful development. But if Beijing ever concludes that the United States and its allies have successfully stymied its aspirations, China may be tempted by riskier methods to assert its status.

    Feb 2, 2018

  • Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis (L), Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (R) meet at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium December 8, 2017

    Commentary

    For the UK's Post-Brexit Economy, No Deal Is the Worst Deal

    Brexit negotiations around trade are likely to be complicated for the UK and EU, particularly as a common position between all the parties could be difficult to achieve. Trying to avoid the worst-case economic option of 'no deal' is likely to be at the top of the agendas for both the UK and EU as trade talks begin.

    Jan 9, 2018

  • Blue globe puzzle

    Report

    Testing the Value of the Postwar International Order

    The postwar order offers significant value to U.S. interests and objectives and is worth the investment. It represents a leading U.S. competitive advantage. At a time of growing rivalry, nationalism, and uncertainty, a functioning multilateral order will be essential.

    Jan 8, 2018

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Gennady Timchenko, founder and owner of a privately held investment vehicle Volga Group, visit a new concert hall of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 3, 2017

    Commentary

    Not All Russian Oligarchs Are Alike

    The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury must report to Congress the main “oligarchs” in Russia, judged by their closeness to the “regime” and net worth. This broad approach, not aimed at specific wrongdoers, poses several risks.

    Jan 8, 2018

  • Rates of currencies are displayed at a currency exchange in Warsaw, Poland, on June 24, 2016, the day after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union

    Commentary

    Why Political Risks May Dampen World Economies in 2018

    The world economy has reached its strongest point since the global financial crisis a decade ago. But rising political risks may cloud prospects in 2018 and perhaps beyond.

    Jan 7, 2018

  • China's President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony of the "CPC in dialogue with world political parties" high-level meeting, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, December 1, 2017

    Commentary

    China's Endgame: The Path Towards Global Leadership

    The coming years are likely to see a deepening contest between the U.S. and China in the diplomatic, economic, cyber, and information domains, even as the risks of major war remain low. In its 19th CCP Congress report, Beijing articulated for the first time an ambition to contend for global leadership.

    Jan 5, 2018

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (center) is welcomed by European Council President Donald Tusk (left) and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at a European Union-Japan summit, Brussels, Belgium, July 6, 2017

    Commentary

    Economic Multilateralism and Regionalism

    The trend toward economic multilateralism and regionalism is accelerating. Japan finalized a free-trade agreement with the EU that will encompass some 600 million people and 30 percent of GWP. The U.S. has benefited from bilateral agreements, but would do well to revisit its posture toward multilateral and regional currents.

    Jan 5, 2018

  • U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks with Chinese Deputy Ambassador Wu Haitao ahead of the United Nations Security Council session on imposing new sanctions on North Korea, in New York, December 22, 2017

    Commentary

    China's Reluctance on Sanctions Enforcement in North Korea

    It's fair to question whether Beijing intends to fully enforce sanctions against the Kim Jong Un regime because such actions tend to undermine China's approach in North Korea. Beijing likely seeks to prevent the collapse of the North Korean regime to ensure that neither a spillover of refugees nor a reunified pro-U.S. Korea emerges on its doorstep.

    Jan 4, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping meet business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017

    Commentary

    America's New Security Strategy Reflects the Intensifying Strategic Competition with China

    The United States unveiled its National Security Strategy last week, describing China as a revisionist power that actively competes against the United States and its allies and partners. China had strong words of its own in response. Both will need to navigate the relationship in a way that supports stability and prosperity for both countries.

    Dec 27, 2017

  • Morning commuters are seen outside the New York Stock Exchange, July 30, 2012

    Commentary

    Economic Instability Endangers Democracy

    The Western political community is retreating from its own institutions. The problem stems from the fact that the health of democracies is crucially dependent on their economic growth rate.

    Dec 16, 2017