International 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.

  • Commentary

    Unblocking the Black Sea for Ukrainian Grain

    As Russia has been blockading ports around Odesa, Ukrainian grain exports in May were more than 60 percent lower than a year ago. Global hunger has hit a new high while 22 million tons of grain in Ukraine could rot if not exported soon.

    Jun 15, 2022

  • Essay

    The Economic Returns of Foreign Language Learning

    If just 10 percent more students in the United Kingdom mastered Arabic, Mandarin, French, or Spanish, the economic returns could be measured in billions of British pounds. Removing the language barrier reduces trade costs.

    Jul 7, 2022

Explore International Trade

  • Report

    Report

    Emerging Technology and Risk Analysis: Additive Manufacturing

    Additive manufacturing is increasingly important for licit and illicit uses. This report focuses on illicit commercial use, particularly counterfeiting, because of its potentially significant effects on economic prosperity and national security.

    Feb 15, 2024

  • A container ship passes an oil platform at the Gulf of Suez towards the Red Sea before entering the Suez Canal, outside of Cairo, Egypt September 1, 2020, photo by Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters

    Commentary

    Middle East–China Trade Prospects Remain Robust Despite Red Sea Crisis

    Disruptions to shipping through the Red Sea and Suez Canal are likely to have only modest effects on Chinese goods trade with most of the Middle East but could lead to significant costs for China's global trade.

    Feb 9, 2024

  • Report

    Report

    Provision of an indicative, non-exhaustive list of Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas (CAHRAs) under Regulation 2017/821: Updated methodology

    This report presents the methodology employed by RAND Europe to produce an indicative, non-exhaustive, regularly updated list of conflict-affected and high-risk areas (CAHRAs) under Regulation (EU) 2017/821.

    Sep 29, 2023

  • International Congress, many flags of different countries on flagpoles, photo by Aleksandr Koltyrin/Getty Images

    Multimedia

    Big Themes and Geopolitics with Robert B. Zoellick

    Robert B. Zoellick shares two complementary perspectives on risks to global democracy, identifying transnational trends and pointing out geopolitical shifts in Eurasia. His message concludes with implications for the future.

    Jun 27, 2023

  • An employee walks past a part of Gazprom's Power Of Siberia gas pipeline at the Atamanskaya compressor station outside the far eastern town of Svobodny, in Amur region, Russia, November 29, 2019, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Commentary

    Consequences of the War in Ukraine: The Economic Fallout

    Before Russia invaded Ukraine, projections estimated global economic growth in 2022 would be around 5 percent. But the war in Ukraine contributed to slowed economic growth in 2022 and a slowed recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. What are the broader consequences for the global economy?

    Mar 7, 2023

  • COVID-19 viruses floating around an image of the world made up of icons of people, image by denisismagilov/Adobe Stock

    Report

    Quantifying the link between COVID-19, conflict risk, and the global economy

    Our research suggests that COVID-19 will significantly increase the risk of civil conflict in African countries. We estimate this effect will, in turn, have negative global repercussions via international trade losses.

    Mar 3, 2023

  • U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken attend the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, November 12, 2022, photo by Cindy Liu/Reuters

    Commentary

    Biden's Southeast Asia Policy Improves in Second Year, but Still Much to Do

    In 2022, the Biden administration stepped up its game in Southeast Asia by showing up in person, clarifying its approach in key strategy documents, and boosting cooperation. But one obvious problem that remains is that it still has no real economic strategy to counter China in the region.

    Jan 10, 2023

  • Visitors to the ASML booth during the 5th China International Import Expo in Shanghai, China, November 7, 2022, photo by CFOTO/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    Export Controls Give ASML and the Netherlands an Opportunity to Lead by Example. Will They Take It?

    Dutch tech company ASML makes the complex machines required to construct advanced microchips, and it sells many of these machines to China. Harmonization of export controls between the United States and the Netherlands could limit China's development of military technologies and its human rights abuses.

    Nov 28, 2022

  • People gather around remains of a military plane at the site where it crashed into a residential building in the city of Irkutsk, Russia, October 23, 2022, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russian Aircraft Keep Crashing. Could Sanctions Be the Cause?

    At least six fixed-wing Russian aircraft have crashed over Russian-controlled airspace since September. Sanctions placed on Russia by the West could well be affecting Russia's ability to manufacture and maintain parts needed to keep aircraft safe.

    Nov 22, 2022

  • Russian Su-35 fighter aircraft taking part in an exercise after taking off from an airfield in Brest, Belarus, February 11, 2022, photo by Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia's Su-35: Are Its Military Aircraft Exports Headed for a Fall?

    Squeezed by sanctions and pressed to replace equipment destroyed in Ukraine, Russia's aerospace sector isn't likely to have combat aircraft to sell, even if it wants to. If purchasing countries start to change their minds and invest in drones and other less-expensive precision guided munitions, the market for Russian combat aircraft might start to rapidly decline.

    Oct 20, 2022

  • Attendees pose for a family photo during the Security and Development Summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 16, 2022, photo by Balkis Press/ABACA/Reuters

    Commentary

    American Investment in Mideast to Stay Focused on Larger Economies Amid Ukraine War

    China is often viewed as the economic powerhouse in the Middle East, but the United States has extensive trade, investment, and financial links. U.S. economic involvement in the Middle East is likely to stay focused on larger markets in line with economic growth, without dramatic shifts in location or magnitude.

    Sep 30, 2022

  • A Japan Ground Self Defense Force soldier (left) and a U.S. Army soldier (right) salute the Japanese and U.S. flags during the opening ceremony of Rising Thunder 2021 at Yakima Training Center, Washington, December 1, 2021, photo by Spc. Dean Johnson/U.S. Army

    Report

    Economic Benefits of U.S. Alliances and Military Engagement

    Decisions about alliances and forward military presence should be based on a range of factors beyond potential economic benefits. But there is evidence that military engagement has historically helped the U.S. economy by promoting international commerce.

    Sep 1, 2022

  • A suspected missile is fired, in this image released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 22, 2020, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Multimedia

    North Korean Sanctions Evasion

    The United Nations imposed increasingly restrictive sanctions on North Korea after each of the six nuclear weapons tests that it conducted between 2009 and 2016. In this film, experts discuss the threats posed by North Korean proliferation and the importance of enforcing sanctions.

    Aug 15, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Gun Storage, the Dangers of Replacement Theory, War in Ukraine: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how Americans store their guns, why

    Jul 15, 2022

  • People stand in line in front of Huawei's new flagship store, as it officially opens in Shanghai, China, June 24, 2020, photo by Aly Song/Reuters

    Report

    Business Community Support for U.S. Policies Toward China

    Policies implemented by the Trump administration were designed to confront China over its problematic behaviors, such as theft of technology and intellectual property. U.S. businesses agreed with the policies, but questioned some of the tactics used. How can Washington address corporate concerns and still compete against China?

    May 16, 2022

  • Natural gas compressor station in Rippien, Sachsen, Germany, March 29, 2022, photo by Sylvio Dittrich/IMAGO/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia Does Not Seem to Be After Ukraine's Gas Reserves

    There seems to be very little reason to believe that the true stakes of the war in Ukraine are the country's natural gas reserves, as some have speculated. Ukrainian gas fields appear too small to justify the costs of the invasion, too hard to keep, and almost impossible for Russia to exploit.

    Apr 11, 2022

  • A world map superimposed over people's raised hands, photo by Rawpixel/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Advancing Global Citizenship in America

    Concerted international action is required to address climate change and sustainability, pandemics, global security, and economic growth. But such action requires a sense of common destiny and shared responsibility among people across nations. What are Americans' attitudes toward global issues, and what could encourage them to become citizens of the world?

    Mar 24, 2022

  • Thank you in many languages, photo by aaabbc/Adobe Stock

    Research Brief

    Talking business: How increasing languages education in the UK could benefit the economy

    Findings show that investing in languages education in UK secondary schools will return more than the investment cost. The benefit-to-cost ratio is about 2:1, meaning that every £1 spent on extra language provision could return £2 for the economy.

    Mar 2, 2022