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.

  • An employee works as grains are loaded in a special transport cargo bound for Egypt, in the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania, May 11, 2022, photo by Olimpiu Gheorghiu/Reuters

    Commentary

    Unblocking the Black Sea for Ukrainian Grain

    As Russia has been blockading ports around Odesa, Ukrainian grain exports in May were more than 60 percent lower than a year ago. Global hunger has hit a new high while 22 million tons of grain in Ukraine could rot if not exported soon.

    Jun 15, 2022

  • A student listens through headphones to an exercise in a Spanish class in Steveange, UK, photo by Ian Miles/Flashpoint Pictures/Alamy

    Essay

    The Economic Returns of Foreign Language Learning

    If just 10 percent more students in the United Kingdom mastered Arabic, Mandarin, French, or Spanish, the economic returns could be measured in billions of British pounds. Removing the language barrier reduces trade costs.

    Jul 7, 2022

Explore International Trade

  • 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

    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 28, 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

    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 28, 2013

  • Report

    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