International Trade

Featured

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

  • The USS Lassen arrives at a South Korean naval port in Donghae as sailors wave South Korean and U.S. flags, March 9, 2013

    Essay

    Are America's Overseas Security Commitments Worth It?

    A growing debate has called into question U.S. international security commitments and whether their economic value outweighs their costs. Research suggests that the magnitude of the benefits could be substantial.

    Jul 7, 2017

  • Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May meeting with Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster and others inside 10 Downing Street, London, June 26, 2017

    Commentary

    Northern Ireland Is Now at the Forefront of Brexit

    After Prime Minister Theresa May's unexpected failure to win a majority in June's snap election, she is now reliant on Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party to shore up a minority Conservative government. As Brexit negotiations begin, European politicians should refresh their knowledge of Northern Irish politics.

    Jun 29, 2017

  • British Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a speech to Conservative Party members in Walmsley Parish Hall in Bolton, April 19, 2017

    Commentary

    The Snap Election, What's in It for Theresa May?

    Why would Theresa May take the risk of a national election, which otherwise wouldn't be needed until 2020, and what does she expect to gain from it? Calling an election now enables May to take decisive control of her party and should strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations.

    Apr 23, 2017

  • The first C919 passenger jet made by the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac) during a news conference at the company's factory in Shanghai, November 2, 2015

    Report

    Chinese Investment in U.S. Aviation Is Not a Threat to Competitiveness

    Since 2005, Chinese companies have acquired, merged, or established joint ventures with more than a dozen U.S. aviation companies. The investment has been limited to smaller manufacturers of technologies not relevant to commercial or military aircraft, likely due to effective U.S. export and foreign investment regulations.

    Apr 10, 2017

  • British Prime Minister Theresa May signs the official letter invoking Article 50 and the UK's intention to leave the EU, March 28, 2017, London

    Commentary

    Brexit and the Politics of Raising Barriers

    A lot is known about bringing new members into alliances and trade relationships. Not much is known about dismantling these bonds peaceably. Since Brexit will be more about adding barriers than taking them down, it will be a leap into the dark.

    Mar 29, 2017

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence attend a meeting with congressional leaders to discuss trade deals at the White House in Washington, February 2, 2017

    Commentary

    Strategic Consequences of U.S. Withdrawal from TPP

    America's withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership has exacerbated doubts about U.S. international leadership and America's role in Asia. Future trade agreements could face similar fates until they do a better job outlining how domestic workers can prosper.

    Mar 27, 2017

  • British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump listens during their joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2017.

    Commentary

    Politics Across the Pond

    Donald Trump and Theresa May can't actually get much done on U.S.-U.K. trade in the short term. Whatever Trump and May say or agree to during this visit will be for political effect. Any real bargaining on the economics will take place years in the future.

    Jan 31, 2017

  • Report

    Against the rising tide: an overview of the growing criminalization of the Mediterranean basin

    This publication is part of a series of four RAND Perspectives (PE) each focusing on different challenges in the Mediterranean region. The focus of this PE is on defence and security issues and their implications for regional stability.

    Jan 26, 2017

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2017

    Commentary

    China Stressed a Growing Interest in Global Trade and Governance at Davos

    President Xi Jinping became the first Chinese leader to appear at the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum last week. He gave a keynote speech that defended global trade and criticized protectionism. His speech reflected, in part, the reality that China has profited enormously from decades of globalization.

    Jan 24, 2017

  • ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson speaks during the 26th World Gas Conference in Paris, France, June 2, 2015.

    Commentary

    Rex Tillerson's Many Challenges

    If confirmed as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson will face a broad array of challenges. One may be to lend the administration consistency, while closing at least some of the deals that President-elect Trump has promised.

    Dec 24, 2016

  • Man looking at chart of China's stock market

    Commentary

    Cracks in the Chinese Powerhouse

    Like most countries that have experienced rapid development, China is struggling to transition from a highly successful but unsustainable economic model. Beijing faces the additional challenge of executing difficult reforms in the face of an inhospitable global economy.

    Dec 19, 2016

  • U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken at RAND's Politics Aside event in Santa Monica, November 12, 2016

    Blog

    Pulling Up the Drawbridge 'Is Fundamentally Flawed'

    Turning inward in response to rapid global change overstates the costs of doing so and downplays the benefits of facing outward.

    Nov 13, 2016

  • Delegates protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 25, 2016

    Commentary

    If Not Free Trade, Then What?

    It may not be unrealistic to hope that the next U.S. president could define and implement a concept of fair trade that is not antitrade.

    Nov 4, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama (center) poses for a photo with numerous Asian leaders before the East Asia Summit in Vientiane, Laos, September 8, 2016

    Commentary

    The Legacy Obama Leaves His Successor in Asia

    The U.S. pivot to the Indo-Pacific has improved U.S. popularity and influence, and positioned it for gains in regional economic, diplomatic, and military cooperation. The incoming administration would be wise to embrace these gains and build on them to preserve and further develop U.S. interests and influence in the region.

    Oct 26, 2016

  • 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

  • News Release

    Re-establishing Border Controls in Europe Could Cost Up to €3 Billion a Year

    Re-establishing border controls across Europe would cost €2 to 3 billion in annual operating costs, plus fixed one-off costs of anywhere between €0.1 and €19 billion. There would also be significant social and political costs.

    Oct 13, 2016

  • A memorial stone for the Schengen Agreement is seen in the small village of Schengen, Luxembourg January 27, 2016

    Commentary

    Why Re-Establishing Border Controls in Europe Could Come at a High Cost

    Reversing the Schengen agreement would come at a high economic cost, while undoing many of the positive social and political developments of the past decade.

    Oct 13, 2016

  • Protesters hold a banner reading 'We are all citizens of the world, no frontier, no borders' in Ventimiglia, Italy, August 7, 2016

    Journal Article

    The Costs of Reintroducing Border Controls in Europe

    The Schengen Agreement in 1985 led to the end of border controls across 26 European nations. Reintroducing these controls would cost billions of euros in economic costs. Social and political costs would also be substantial.

    Oct 12, 2016

  • World map concept with puzzle pieces

    Essay

    Election 2016: The International Issues

    America's next president will face challenges that test the fundamentals of world order. RAND experts have outlined key decisions, the dangers involved, and the least-bad options that now often pass for good ones.

    Oct 7, 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