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.

  • An employee works as grains are loaded in a special transport cargo bound for Egypt, in the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania, May 11, 2022, photo by Olimpiu Gheorghiu/Reuters

    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

  • A student listens through headphones to an exercise in a Spanish class in Steveange, UK, photo by Ian Miles/Flashpoint Pictures/Alamy

    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

  • 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

    Report

    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

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

    Report

    Investment in Languages Education Could Return Double for UK Economy

    Languages play a significant role in international trade, and not sharing a common language acts as a non-tariff trade barrier. Benefit-to-cost ratios for increasing Arabic, Mandarin, French, or Spanish education in the UK are estimated to be at least 2:1, meaning that spending £1 could return £2.

    Feb 21, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Blockship Tactics to Trap Enemy Fleets

    The U.S. Navy should initiate a blockship program to counter potential threats.

    Feb 8, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Decoupling from China: How U.S. Asian Allies Responded to the Huawei Ban

    The paper analyzes how Australia, Japan, and South Korea responded to Washington's expectations of mutual support on the decoupling of Chinese technology companies from global supply chains.

    Jan 6, 2022

  • Russian missile air defence systems at the international military-technical forum Army-2021 in Moscow Region, Russia, August 23, 2021, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Report

    How Diplomacy Could Be Used to Discourage Russian Arms Sales

    Countering Russian arms sales could reduce Russia's influence on other nations as well as revenue that indirectly enables its irresponsible international behavior. The United States and its allies need to provide credible diplomatic and military alternatives, and work with countries to address their security needs.

    Nov 18, 2021

  • 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