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.

  • A replica of China Railway high-speed trains at a media center for the second Belt and Road Forum, in Beijing, China, April 26, 2019, photo by Jason Lee/Reuters

    Blog

    Demystifying the Belt and Road Initiative

    Jul 6, 2020

    Under the Belt and Road Initiative, China works with more than 70 countries to design and implement large infrastructure projects. Why are countries of all stripes turning to China for funding when the world is awash with cash?

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (center) speaks in a videoconference with the heads of the European Union in London, UK, June 15, 2020, photo by Andrew Parsons/No10 Downing Street/Reuters

    Blog

    The Cost of Brexit Uncertainty

    Jul 8, 2020

    Leaving the European Union has had an overall negative economic effect on the UK economy, and there are additional economic costs associated with the uncertainty surrounding the new relationship. Will there be a deal? And if so, what type of deal is likely?

Explore International Trade

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • News Release

    UK Likely to Be Economically Worse-Off Outside the EU Under Most Plausible Trade Scenarios

    The UK economy is likely to suffer under the most probable post-Brexit trade scenarios. Leaving the EU with no deal and operating under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules would lead to the greatest economic loss for the UK, reducing GDP by nearly 5 per cent, or $140 billion, 10 years after Brexit, compared with EU membership.

    Dec 12, 2017

  • Women work at a tungsten mining factory in Zhongshan, China, June 2, 2017

    Testimony

    Taking Action Against U.S. Import Dependence

    When a country that controls its materials production dominates the supply chain for a critical material—as China does with tungsten—it's harder for American manufacturers to compete. But the United States can take steps to help mitigate this issue.

    Dec 12, 2017

  • Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the EC headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 8, 2017

    Commentary

    The Burdens of Brexit

    The economic consequences of Brexit are likely to be negative across a wide range of scenarios, including the most likely outcomes that the UK now faces. If the UK leaves the EU with no trade deal it could lose 4.9 percent of GDP, or $140 billion, after 10 years.

    Dec 12, 2017

  • 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

    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.

    Dec 11, 2017

  • Tool

    Calculator Explores Five “Hard Brexit” Scenarios

    An interactive calculator based on RAND's After Brexit report allows users to examine how negotiations are likely to affect the economies of the UK, EU, and U.S. in the 10 years after Brexit negotiations conclude.

    Dec 11, 2017

  • European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip addresses a news conference on Digital Single Market at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium May 10, 2017

    Commentary

    Why the EU Single Market Has Still Not Reached Its Full Potential

    The EU Single Market aimed to promote intra-European trade, increase competition, create more jobs and make Europe more attractive to foreign direct investment. The economic benefits of the Single Market are clear, but closer integration requires political buy-in from individual member states and the EU.

    Nov 8, 2017

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017

    Commentary

    Sustaining America's Economic Strength in the Asia-Pacific: A Narrowing Window of Opportunity

    Ali Wyne urges President Trump to reassure U.S. allies that the United States has both the capacity and the willingness to maintain an enduring presence in the Asia-Pacific. That reassurance must be grounded in credible geo-economic pledges.

    Nov 8, 2017

  • U.S. President Donald Trump is shown on a large screen as he addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017

    Commentary

    The Multilateral Order Makes America Stronger

    Skeptics have suggested that U.S. interests and support for the international community are somehow mutually exclusive. In fact, international institutions, rules, and norms have mostly worked in the U.S. interest, not against it. The Trump administration has an opportunity to build on that record with a strong agenda of reform and support.

    Sep 26, 2017

  • Headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland

    Report

    Measuring the Health of the International Order

    The liberal international order that has been in place since 1945 is relatively stable. But the order is threatened by geopolitical and domestic socioeconomic trends that call into question its assumptions. U.S. support and engagement over the coming decade will be essential.

    Sep 5, 2017

  • An American flag on a fence in the prairie

    Commentary

    American Isolationism Isn't New

    Isolationism is a recurring temptation of American foreign policy. Responding to new and unforeseen challenges, however, the United States has repeatedly resisted that temptation and risen to the demands of global leadership. Is it different today?

    Aug 1, 2017

  • News Release

    British Public Reject “No Deal” on Brexit

    The British people disagree with the claim that “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain” when it comes to negotiations for leaving the EU. They want a deal on Brexit and are willing to compromise to get one.

    Jul 14, 2017

  • Brexit negotiations written on mountain road sign

    Journal Article

    British Public Rejects “No Deal” on Brexit

    The British people disagree with the claim that “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain” when it comes to negotiations for leaving the European Union. They want a deal on Brexit and are willing to compromise to get one.

    Jul 13, 2017

  • Report

    What sort of Brexit do the British people want? A proof-of-concept study using stated preference discrete choice experiments: Technical addendum

    A proof-of-concept study using stated preference discrete choice experiments to quantify the British people's preferences for their relationship with the European Union after Brexit.

    Jul 13, 2017