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

  • China's President Xi Jinping walks with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa before their meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, July 24, 2018

    Report

    China Is 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

  • Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron prepares to speak as he returns to Number 10 Downing Street on March 30, 2015

    Commentary

    Letter from London

    There is evidence of decisiveness and clarity in the UK's foreign policy outlook. Yet there is also ambivalence, partly explained by preelection domestic politics, some aspects of which challenge the very notion of the UK as a unitary foreign policy actor.

    Apr 21, 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

  • President Barack Obama, left, and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, during their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 5, 2013

    Multimedia

    U.S.–Japan Alliance Conference Series Proceedings

    In a series of conferences, U.S. and Japanese experts explored the challenges for the U.S.-Japan alliance associated with China's military modernization drive and increasing foreign policy assertiveness.

    Jan 21, 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

  • Dayan Candappa, Carlos Slim Helu, and Saad Mohseni at RAND's Politics Aside 2014

    Blog

    The Risks and Rewards of Emerging Markets

    Emerging markets may offer challenges ranging from corruption to the threat of violence, but the rewards can be worth the risks, experts said during a panel discussion at RAND's Politics Aside event. Reuters Americas Editor Dayan Candappa moderated the panel which included Carlos Slim Helú, a businessman, investor, and philanthropist, and Saad Mohseni, CEO of MOBY Group.

    Nov 16, 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

  • Forex - British and Euro currency pair with calculator

    Report

    Lack of Complete European Integration Costs Countries, EU

    The removal of existing barriers to foreign direct direct investment and non-tariff trade barriers within the European Union could boost total intra-EU merchandise exports up to 7 per cent in the long-term. These effects would vary by Member State, and by sector of the internal market.

    Oct 21, 2014

  • Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and China's Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on August 26, 2014. Officials say Mugabe is seeking funds to rebuild decaying roads, rail and power facilities, and to help mechanise Zimbabwe's agriculture.

    Blog

    RAND Experts Discuss Chinese Engagement in Africa

    Larry Hanauer and Lyle Morris discussed their recent report, Chinese Engagement in Africa, as part of RAND's China Luncheon Series. They took a comprehensive look at Chinese and African objectives in the political and economic spheres and the means by which they work to achieve their goals.

    Oct 14, 2014

  • COMAC ARJ21 Chinese commercial passenger jet

    Testimony

    China’s Industrial Policies in Commercial Aviation Manufacturing

    Until recently, the Chinese aircraft manufacturing industry produced aircraft almost exclusively for its military. As China transitions to commercial aircraft production, does it need to rethink its investments and policies to become more globally integrated and competitive?

    Jul 31, 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

  • Chinese Renminbi banknotes

    Commentary

    A Liberated Yuan Is Likely to Fall

    Some critics claim that the People's Bank of China is contriving to weaken the yuan's value to promote Chinese exports and stimulate the country's lagging growth. But the yuan's true value may be lower than some popular estimates.

    May 21, 2014

  • News Release

    China Faces Several Obstacles to Building Successful Domestic Commercial Aircraft Industry

    China's investment of billions of dollars in a domestic commercial aviation industry has yet to result in a commercially viable aircraft and is unlikely to do so for the foreseeable future.

    Apr 4, 2014

  • The testing platform for China's C919 jumbo jet, photo by Shanghai Daily - Imaginechina/AP

    Report

    China Faces Several Obstacles to Building Successful Domestic Commercial Aircraft Industry

    China's investment of billions of dollars in a domestic commercial aviation industry has yet to result in a commercially viable aircraft and is unlikely to do so for the foreseeable future.

    Apr 4, 2014

  • pie chart illustration over a world map

    Commentary

    Happy 80th Birthday, 'GDP' — Is It Not Time to Retire?

    While there are merits to using GDP, it is clear that it fails to measure several important potential externalities to economic growth, such as environmental damage, poor working conditions, or violations of privacy rights.

    Feb 6, 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

    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