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.

  • Shipping containers at the port in San Pedro, California, March 22, 2018, photo by Bob Riha Jr./Reuters

    Commentary

    Trump's Tariffs Against China Aren't Working. And There's No Quick Resolution in Sight

    Aug 20, 2019

    Washington's go-it-alone approach to its trade disputes with China is imposing a high and growing cost on the U.S. economy. It could even threaten global prosperity. What's more, there's no quick resolution in sight.

  • 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

    Dec 12, 2017

    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.

Explore International Trade

  • Tool

    Estimating the Value of Overseas Security Commitments: An Interactive Visualization

    Researchers estimated that U.S. economic losses from major retrenchments of overseas security commitments would be more than triple any gains. This visualization compares different estimated gains and losses from selected retrenchment levels and selected tax, spending, and trade multipliers.

    Sep 22, 2016

  • Research Brief

    Economic Benefits of U.S. Overseas Security Commitments Could Far Outweigh Costs

    Amid intensifying debate over U.S. funding and resources, RAND researchers find that the economic benefits of U.S. overseas security commitments could far exceed the costs.

    Sep 22, 2016

  • A formation of C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft fly in formation as they return from the Samurai Surge training mission near Mount Fuji, Japan, June 5, 2012

    Report

    The Value of Overseas Security Commitments

    U.S. overseas security commitments have positive and significant effects on both U.S. bilateral trade and non-U.S. global bilateral trade. If commitments were reduced, the economic costs from lost trade would be more than triple any associated savings in defense spending.

    Sep 22, 2016

  • A ship is unloaded using Super Post Panamax cranes in Miami, Florida, May 19, 2016

    Commentary

    Eliminating Jobs or Strengthening the Economy? The Impact of Trade Policies on the American Worker

    The enormous benefits of trade include economic growth, more variety for industry and consumers, and lower prices. But trade can displace some American workers. Training programs, relocation assistance, and wage insurance can help.

    Aug 30, 2016

  • Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi meet at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, in Beijing, China, April 30, 2016

    Commentary

    Do Economic Ties Limit the Prospect of Conflict?

    China has grown stronger economically and militarily over the past 35 years and has become more assertive. Its trade and investment links with Japan are substantial but they have been declining, and are less of a constraint on conflict than before.

    Aug 9, 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

  • RAND senior economist Howard Shatz discussing his report, U.S. International Economic Strategy in a Turbulent World, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., June 21, 2016

    Blog

    Froman and Shatz Discuss U.S. Trade Policies, Brexit Implications

    Days before British citizens voted to exit the EU, RAND experts and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman gathered to discuss U.S. international economic policies that can expand strategic options, as well as the potential implications of Brexit.

    Jul 13, 2016

  • A drilling rig at the Imilorskoye oil field, outside the West Siberian city of Kogalym, Russia, January 25, 2016

    Report

    Prospects for Russia's Economic Growth

    Without major policy changes, the Russian economy will grow slowly in the medium term, even if world market prices for oil rebound sharply. However, returning to policies that Russia has pursued in the recent past could lead to substantially higher rates of growth.

    Jun 22, 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

  • 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

  • A blue map of the United States overlaying skyscrapers

    Research Brief

    Charting the U.S. Role in the World Economy

    The strength of America's economy supports the country's international power. That makes the next administration's economic choices among its most crucial.

    Jun 21, 2016

  • Currency exchange rates are displayed on a digital LED screen

    Report

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

    The United States stands to gain more from strengthening global institutions and engaging with the world's growing economic powers than from pulling back.

    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

  • Pumpjack and oil refinery plant in West Texas

    Commentary

    What Will Happen After the Oil Export Ban Is Repealed?

    Without the crude oil export ban, producers could sell their product abroad without discounting it, and the Gulf Coast refineries could specialize in the heavier oil for which they are optimized. On the whole, the global refining industry would likely enjoy efficiency gains.

    Dec 22, 2015

  • Woman using a digital tablet with an elderly man

    Commentary

    Bridging the Global Age Gap

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership offers hope for balancing the world's rapidly aging with its jobless youth. As long-term care for the elderly becomes a pressing need in many developed countries, services such as monitoring and reminding people to take their medications could be provided remotely from countries with an abundance of younger workers.

    Oct 8, 2015

  • Protesters wave Armenian national flags during a rally against a hike in electricity prices in Yerevan, Armenia July 1, 2015

    Commentary

    It's Time to Reboot Our Relationship with Russia and Iran's Neighbors

    In implementing the prospective Iran nuclear agreement, the West cannot forget its engagement in the vulnerable South Caucasus. The Iran deal changes the equation for all three countries and perhaps opens new opportunities.

    Jul 28, 2015

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani arrives to attend the closing statement for the Asian-African Conference in Jakarta April 23, 2015

    Commentary

    Who Benefits from Iran Sanctions Relief?

    More than $100 billion of Iranian oil proceeds are “frozen” in foreign bank accounts under the current sanctions regime. The repatriation of Iran's money would no doubt boost a flagging economy.

    Jul 2, 2015

  • 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

  • Tungsten or wolframite ore

    Testimony

    Critical Materials and U.S. Import Dependence

    The United States is vulnerable to export restrictions that limit access to raw materials that are critical to manufacturing. This can hinder the competitiveness of U.S. manufactures and create pressure to move manufacturing out of the country. But there are ways to address the potential for supply disruptions of critical materials.

    May 12, 2015

  • News Release

    China Not a Threat to U.S. National Security Interests in Africa

    The United States should keep China's activities in Africa in perspective. While commercial competition is almost certain, there is little ground for geopolitical and ideological rivalry. The leaders of the two nations disagree about political norms but both seek stability in Africa.

    Apr 22, 2015