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

  • 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

  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (right) talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) during their meeting in Tehran in 2009

    Report

    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 26, 2013

  • President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden talk with Vice President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China and members of the Chinese delegation following their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Feb. 14, 2012.

    Commentary

    Agreeing to Disagree About Africa

    The Obama-Xi dialogue offers an opportunity to clarify both countries' interests in Africa and remove a potential irritant to U.S.-Chinese bilateral relations, write Larry Hanauer and Lyle Morris.

    Jun 6, 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

  • Report

    China Is the Controlling Producer of Materials Critical to U.S. Manufacturing

    China is the controlling producer of 11 raw and semi-finished critical materials and has instituted export restrictions that create pressure to move manufacturing to China. Action is needed to mitigate the impact of such market distortions on the global manufacturing sector.

    Feb 11, 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

  • Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque at Imam Square in Isfahan, Iran

    Commentary

    Iran: A Rough Year in 2013

    The Islamic Republic faces the potential of stronger economic sanctions and even a military strike because of its intransigence in complying with U.N. resolutions on its nuclear program. It also must deal with twin domestic challenges—deepening malaise among the young and increasing tensions among the political elite, writes Alireza Nader.

    Jan 2, 2013

  • The Bund, Shanghai, China

    Commentary

    Confronting a Rising China Begins at Home

    As long as the United States holds tight to its values and solves its problems at home, it will be able to manage the rise of China, write Andrew Scobell and Andrew J. Nathan.

    Oct 18, 2012

  • A sailor mans a small craft attack team post in the Strait of Hormuz

    Commentary

    Will Iran Close the Strait of Hormuz?

    Just by threatening to close the Strait, Iran increases pressure on the U.S. to restrain Israel from attacking Iran. Other key players—including major oil importers such as China, Japan, and India—would be reluctant to support military action because of heavy dependence on Persian Gulf oil, writes Alireza Nader.

    Oct 2, 2012

  • aircraft carrier USS George Washington

    Commentary

    Beijing Unflustered by Cool Ties With Seoul

    In light of deeply-rooted policy differences, so clearly on display in China’s treatment of South Korea over the past two years, no amount of tweaking around the margins of policy, inspired by internet polling, is likely to lead to dramatic improvements in the bilateral relationship, writes Scott Warren Harold.

    Aug 20, 2012

  • News Release

    U.S. Military's Role with Petroleum Is to Assure Security

    Energy purchases made by the U.S. Department of Defense do not influence world oil prices, making cutting fuel use the only effective choice to reduce what the Pentagon spends on petroleum fuels.

    Jun 19, 2012

  • Report

    U.S. Air Force Engagement with Turkey on Energy Security Looks Promising

    Turkey aspires to become a key transit state for moving both natural gas and oil from the Caspian region and from the broader Middle East via pipelines crossing its territory. U.S.-Turkish cooperation on energy security issues offers a promising yet modest opportunity to strengthen the bilateral relationship.

    Jun 19, 2012

  • Report

    What Can Be Done to Increase Asia's Sea-Lane Security?

    The sea lanes that supply Asia's energy needs are already vulnerable to geopolitical concerns and the threat of piracy. One approach to protecting them would be employ multiple U.S. military and government elements; a second would be to promote the capabilities of and cooperation among nations in the region.

    Jun 19, 2012

  • Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

    Commentary

    Questions After the First U.S. Bank Takeover by a Chinese State-Controlled Company

    In considering foreign application to acquire U.S. companies, the United States needs to consider both risks as well as benefits in both defense and economic dimensions, write Charles Wolf, Jr., Brian Chow, Gregory Jones, and Scott Harold.

    May 15, 2012

  • Report

    The United States, Japan, and Free Trade: Moving in the Same Direction?

    Assesses the factors contributing to the decisions by the United States and Japan to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the meaning of those decisions for bilateral cooperation on trade expansion.

    Apr 23, 2012