U.S. Power and Foreign Trade

The United States has entered an era of geoeconomic competition, but may only be using half of its economic toolkit. Increasingly, U.S. policymakers rely on sanctions, tariffs, and other forms of coercive economic power. This series of short commentaries draws attention to a potent but neglected weapon in the U.S. economic arsenal. It examines how positive uses of trade policy can advance strategic objectives, from bolstering old alliances and forging new ones in strategic regions to competing with China and responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This series is made possible by support from Atlas Network.


July 20, 2020 | Grace Hearty

Fishery negotiations play an important role in international trade agreements. The USMCA has acted as a successful vehicle for increasing international cooperation on key environmental issues that benefit the United States from both an economic and a strategic perspective.

May 27, 2020 | Kurt Tong

This year’s unique situation—with Taiwan inspiring positive headlines; American politicians looking for ways to stand up to China; and markets looking for ways to bounce back from Covid-19—is a unique opportunity to focus on why a U.S.-Taiwan trade agreement would be beneficial for the United States.


July 15, 2020| Matt Warner

Covid-19 may be the most important humanitarian crisis of the twenty-first century. U.S. trade policy may prove to be one of the most powerful tools for heading off disaster.


January 31, 2020 | Audrye Wong

While much attention has been focused on economic coercion, inducements have also played an important role in China’s toolkit. Ramping up U.S. efforts at bilateral and multilateral economic engagement would provide more credible or appealing alternatives.