A Turning Point for Global Trade

International trade has shaped the world for much of the past century. Countries benefited from the global flow of goods, and the world became richer and safer. At the same time, many Americans lost their jobs to cheaper overseas competitors. Now, a series of compounding challenges, including great power competition and climate change, have led U.S. officials to rethink trade policy. What's next for international trade? And can the United States retain the benefits of trade while protecting critical supply chains and fighting climate change?

Play Button Pause Button
0:00 0:00
  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Molly McAnany - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • Jennifer Hillman
    Senior Fellow for Trade and International Political Economy
  • Inu Manak
    Fellow for Trade Policy
  • Edward Alden
    Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow

Show Notes

Global trade has reached an inflection point. At the center of the debate is industrial policy, or the promotion of certain domestic industries that a government deems critical to national security or economic competitiveness. In the United States, President Joe Biden has made historic investments in U.S. industries such as semiconductors and electric vehicles, seeking to bolster supply chains, add more manufacturing jobs, incentivize the private sector to invest in renewable energy, and maintain its standing as a global economic powerhouse. Those strategies have drawn criticism from U.S. allies, who worry that such policies could undermine their own economies. 


In this episode, experts argue that U.S. industrial policy serves a valuable purpose, but warn of the costs if it becomes the norm. 



From CFR


Noah Berman and Anshu Siripurapu,  “The Contentious U.S.-China Trade Relationship”


Noah Berman and Anshu Siripurapu, “Is Industrial Policy Making a Comeback?”


James McBride and Anshu Siripurapu,  “What’s Next for the WTO?”


Shannon K. O’Neill, “U.S. Should Look South, Not Far East, on Trade Pacts” 



From Our Guests


Edward Alden, “Biden’s Turn Against Trade Makes It Hard to Win Friends”


Jennifer Hillman and Inu Manak, “Rethinking International Rules on Subsidies”



Read More


Mark Muro, “Biden’s Big Bet on Place-Based Industrial Policy,” Brookings Institution


“What Is Friendshoring?” Economist



Watch and Listen


“Let’s Talk Future of Trade,” World Trade Organization


“One Year Later: The Inflation Reduction Act and Climate Progress,” Brookings Institution


When the Microchips Are Down,” Why It Matters


In a wide-ranging conversation, Foreign Affairs Editor Dan Kurtz-Phelan joins Why It Matters to discuss nonpartisan publishing in a polarized political climate, the state of press freedom around the world, and the future of journalism.

Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Thirty years ago, Rwanda’s government began a campaign to eradicate the country’s largest minority group. In just one hundred days in 1994, roving militias killed around eight hundred thousand people. Would-be killers were incited to violence by the radio, which encouraged extremists to take to the streets with machetes. The United Nations stood by amid the bloodshed, and many foreign governments, including the United States, declined to intervene before it was too late. What got in the way of humanitarian intervention? And as violent conflict now rages at a clip unseen since then, can the international community learn from the mistakes of its past?


Many Americans are losing faith in the benefits of internationalism. But whether it’s wars in the Gaza Strip and Ukraine, worsening extreme weather as a result of climate change, or the trade-offs of globalization, events abroad are increasingly having a local impact. At the same time, more state and local officials in the United States are becoming involved in global affairs, conducting their own form of diplomacy on international issues and driving investment home. What role should the United States play in the world economy? And how do states and cities fit in?

Top Stories on CFR


Despite China’s growing pressure, Taiwan has developed one of the world’s strongest democracies—one that will be increasingly tested in the coming years. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Watermarking is often discussed as a solution to the problems posed by AI-generated content. However, watermarking is inadequate without other methods of detecting and sorting out AI-generated content.


Policymakers face complex cost-benefit considerations when intervening in the market to mitigate perceived risks, from climate change to competition with China.