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.

  • 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

  • World map with global communication lines.

    Commentary

    The Made-in-America Global Security and Economic System Still Serves U.S. Interests

    The next U.S. president will have many willing partners and an opportunity to expand the global system of security and economic institutions in a way that will help the United States and the world for decades.

    Oct 26, 2016

  • World map graph with arrows pointing downward

    Blog

    Conversations at RAND: Howard J. Shatz on the International Economy

    One of the contentious issues in this year's presidential election campaign is the U.S. role in the global economy. A RAND panel offers strategies for the next president, who will face a troubled landscape.

    Oct 5, 2016

  • U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.

    Blog

    A Summer Reading List for Congress

    To help Hill staffers make the most of the Congressional recess, RAND has developed a list of must-read research and commentaries that will help ensure policymakers will return ready to hit the ground running.

    Aug 2, 2016

  • News Release

    News Release

    Strong Global Economic Engagement Is Essential to Maintaining U.S. Prosperity and Leadership Abroad

    The United States stands to gain more from both strengthening global institutions and rules, such as those governing trade, direct investment, and development assistance, as well as engaging with the world's rising powers than from pulling back.

    Jun 21, 2016

  • Multimedia

    U.S. International Economic Policies That Can Expand Strategic Options

    In a fast-changing world, should the United States strengthen its links with the international economy or pull back? RAND Senior Economist Howard Shatz and Ambassador Michael Froman explore this question at the book launch for the latest volume in RAND's Strategic Rethink series. Ambassador Charles Ries moderates the discussion.

    Jun 21, 2016

  • Pump jacks are seen at the Lukoil company owned Imilorskoye oil field, as the sun sets, outside the West Siberian city of Kogalym, Russia, January 25, 2016

    Commentary

    Low Oil Prices: Good for U.S. Security, Troublesome for the Economy

    Will oil prices remain low? And how can the balance between cheap oil's positive effects on U.S. security and its negative effects on the economy be assessed?

    Feb 26, 2016

  • Testimony

    Testimony

    Critical Materials, U.S. Import Dependence, and Recommended Actions: Addendum

    Document submitted on May 26, 2015 as an addendum to testimony presented before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on May 12, 2015.

    May 27, 2015

  • A drone operated by paramilitary police flies over the site of explosions at Binhai new district in Tianjin, China, August 17, 2015

    Report

    Emerging Trends in China's Development of Unmanned Systems

    An exploratory analysis of China's development and use of unmanned systems focuses on maritime unmanned systems, the roles China sees for them, Chinese development of unmanned vehicles, and uses for such systems in the East and South China Seas.

    Mar 12, 2015

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin exchanges documents with his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, December 22, 2014

    Commentary

    Can Eurasian Energy Compete?

    Cheaper oil, government interference, and market dynamics jeopardize the future of Russian and Caspian energy. To be globally competitive, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan should let the private sector play a greater role and make more decisions on commercial, rather than political grounds.

    Jan 16, 2015

  • Members of the the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance hold posters during a voting session on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, July 4, 2012

    Commentary

    ACTA Revisited? TTIP and Data Privacy

    The EU has embarked on negotiations with the U.S. on the TTIP, which shares some of ACTA's goals. This time, though, the European Commission is seeking to make the talks more transparent by publishing a series of position papers on key issues very early on in the process. This is a step in the right direction toward an agreement that will have economic benefits for a net-exporting region of intellectual property such as the EU.

    Nov 26, 2014

  • A European flag superimposed over euro banknotes

    Commentary

    The Not-So-Full-Monti: Will More 'Europe' Lead to More Trade in the Internal Market?

    Even though the internal market for goods is at a relatively advanced stage, there remains an untapped potential in the longer term. Barriers and regulatory obstacles continue to hinder the free movement of goods in the EU.

    Oct 28, 2014

  • Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (2nd R) and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (R) walk as they arrive to the site of previously burnt ivory, in Nairobi National Park May 10, 2014

    Commentary

    In Africa: U.S. Promotes Security, China Does Business

    Africans require both security and economic growth. Global powers like China and the United States do not need to choose between the two when focusing their foreign policy efforts.

    May 31, 2014

  • Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich shakes hands with European Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Fuele during their meeting in Kiev, January 28, 2014

    Commentary

    EU-Ukraine Alliance Will Benefit Russia, Too

    The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement would benefit both Ukraine and Russia in many ways, especially in greater trade, social, and cultural exchanges. Ukraine's closer association with the EU would actually increase Russian trade with Ukraine as long as Russia does not impose artificial restrictions.

    Jan 29, 2014

  • Chinese naval soldiers stand guard on China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning

    Commentary

    Thoughts on China's New Air Defense Zone Policy

    In response to an inquiry from The Nelson Report, RAND's Scott Harold offered some thoughts on China's new air defense zone policy and how Japan and South Korea could be brought closer together by their respective responses.

    Dec 4, 2013

  • Men travel in a boat across the Yangon river

    Commentary

    U.S. Sanctions Against Myanmar Need to Go

    Washington now has to ask itself whether its goals can best be met with these restrictions in place or whether it is time to recognize the fundamental changes that are taking place in Myanmar and forge a new relationship with its leaders based on full government-to-government relations, writes Peter Chalk.

    Oct 2, 2013

  • News Release

    News Release

    Rivalry, Cooperation Between Turkey and Iran Changing Along with the Middle East

    Economic cooperation between Turkey and Iran has increased over the past decade — mainly due to Iran's vast oil and natural gas reserves — but the degree of cooperation between the two nations should not be exaggerated.

    Aug 29, 2013

  • Garments factory in Bangladesh

    Commentary

    What Bangladesh — and US Retailers — Must Do to Prevent Man-Made Tragedies

    Perhaps most tragic of all are the disasters that are wholly preventable: the deaths, maimings, and crushed livelihoods that result from human callousness or indifference, writes Jonah Blank.

    May 17, 2013

  • a handshake

    Commentary

    A Russia-China Alliance Brewing?

    Three major areas appear to have been the focus of Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin's recent summit: managing expectations about the relationship; expanding bilateral trade in energy and arms; and cooperation on international security affairs.

    Apr 12, 2013

  • An array of solar panels

    Commentary

    Why China’s Suntech Might Not Be Alone in Heading Toward Bankruptcy

    As solar power remains more expensive than conventional sources of electricity in most parts of the world, demand for photovoltaic solar panels still primarily depends on government subsidies, says Keith Crane.

    Mar 29, 2013

  • cracked piggy bank with U.S. flag stickers

    Commentary

    U.S. 'Soft Power' Abroad Is Losing Its Punch

    America's fiscal predicament and the seeming inability of its political system to resolve these matters may be taking a toll on the instruments of U.S. “soft power” and on the country's ability to shape international developments in ways that serve American interests, writes C. Richard Neu.

    Feb 8, 2013