TradeVistas is a joint initiative of the Hinrich Foundation and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

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Featured TradeVistas articlesAbout TradeVistas

Sri Lanka’s sustainable approach to underwear production

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Underwear, panties, intimates, undergarments, bras, lingerie, undies – whatever you call it, American women will buy over $14 billion dollars of it in 2018. Much of it comes from Sri Lanka, a top producer for major global brands like Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, H&M and more. As the country’s apparel industry has expanded, it has focused on ethical employment practices through industry-wide programs like the Garments without Guilt campaign. It was also one of the first to pioneer “eco factories”. HF Research Associate Lauren Kyger explains how manufacturers in Sri Lanka are sewing sustainable success in this TradeVistas journey.

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Understanding U.S. tariff actions: Two sides of the coin

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Given the recent flurry of trade actions, it would be understandable if they all started to blend together in the minds of observers. But there are distinct types of tariffs, implemented for entirely different reasons, under specific statutory authorities under U.S. law – each holding vastly different implications for the global trade system. In this TradeVistas essential, HF Research Fellow Stephen Olson explains the differences between tariffs applied out of national security considerations (“Section 232”), tariffs applied as a temporary safeguard against injury from imports (“Section 201”), and tariffs issued to remedy unreasonable or discriminatory trade practices by U.S. trading partners (“Section 301”).

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Wisconsin farmers are rooting against ginseng tariffs

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As trade tensions between the United States and China simmer, some American products have been caught in the crosshairs. In early April, China announced $3 billion worth of tariffs on 128 U.S. goods including fruit, wine and nuts, in response to the Trump administration’s preliminary decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. One particular group of people affected by these tariffs are Wisconsin farmers of American ginseng. HF Research Associate Lauren Kyger explains how tariffs can impact local communities whose livelihoods depend on international trade in this TradeVistas feature.

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American rubber band makers in a bind

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In 2016, the United States imported $1.3 billion worth of natural rubber, second only to China as the world’s largest importer. But America’s largest rubber band manufacturer has asked U.S. trade agencies to investigate whether China, Thailand, and Sri Lanka are subsidizing their producers, enabling them to sell unfairly cheap rubber bands. Hinrich Foundation Research Associate Lauren Kyger offers the big trade picture through the lens of trade in rubber bands in this TradeVistas feature.

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The problem with U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum that no one is talking about

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The preliminary U.S. decision to apply 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum imports has been met with widespread apprehension by proponents of the rules-based multilateral trade system. But the problem the tariffs are supposed to address isn’t receiving as much attention, argues Hinrich Foundation Research Fellow Stephen Olson in this TradeVistas feature article. The simple fact of the matter is that a number of countries are undeniably engaging in unfair and even predatory trade practices in the steel and aluminum sectors which are damaging to their trade partners.

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The millennial-aged trade dispute that could affect your sparkling water

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Bottled water surpassed carbonated soft drinks for the first time in 2016 to become the most popular U.S. beverage by volume. American sparkling water brands like Sparkling Ice, LaCroix, and Polar are surging, but international giants Perrier and San Pellegrino continue to hold their own among U.S. consumers, also experiencing double-digit growth. This TradeVistas feature article by Hinrich Foundation Research Associate Lauren Kyger explains that an ongoing trade dispute about beef — which is older than most millennials themselves — could burst the sparkling water bubble, threatening imports of European brands to the U.S. market and directly affecting the choice of sparkling water available on grocery store shelves.

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It’s engagement season, a shining moment for trade

TradeVistas- Global diamond trade
An estimated 40 percent of wedding engagements in the United States happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, and nothing is more synonymous with an engagement than a sparkling diamond ring. Americans buy over a third of all diamonds worldwide, with annual sales in excess of $23 billion, and 99% of the gems are imported. This TradeVistas Journey by Hinrich Foundation Research Associate Lauren Kyger explains the dynamics of the diamond business, including the story of international cooperation to reduce trade in conflict diamonds.

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Export-led growth is waning in East Asia

TradeVistas- Exports in East Asia
Economic growth in East Asia powered by exports has been a consistent and beneficial feature of the past 30 years. Technological change, however, continues to reshape the contours of growth and development. This TradeVistas feature by Hinrich Foundation Research Fellow Stephen Olson discusses the impact of advanced manufacturing, automation, and services imbedded in goods as vectors of disruption, and asks whether the ongoing retrenchment in trade liberalization will wind up harming workers and consumers.

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Fall favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte, thanks trade

TradeVistas- Global coffee trade
Europeans and Americans are the largest consumers of imported coffee. Last year, nearly 62 percent of Americans drank coffee every day. In this TradeVistas article, Hinrich Foundation Research Associate Lauren Kyger details the journey of global coffee supply chains and explains how daily consumption of espresso-based coffee drinks — like Starbuck’s beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte — has nearly tripled in recent years owing to a jump in sales from young coffee drinkers.

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Adding value to the Cambodian economy every 374.41 seconds

TradeVistas- Cambodia FDI
Foreign direct investment (FDI) is usually measured in the millions, billions, and trillions. Global flows of FDI reached an estimated $1.52 trillion in 2016. In this TradeVistas article, Hinrich Foundation Research Associate Lauren Kyger explains how the success of a single multi-million dollar investment can hinge on fractions of a second on the factory floor. Ultimately, successful investors know that their employees are their most important assets, and that investing in the welfare of community benefits the bottom line.

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TradeVistas seeks to engage readers in ways that relate trade to our own lives and communities. Advances in technology and transportation have made it easier than ever for us to exchange products, services, and ideas with anyone anywhere the world. But as familiar as it is in our daily lives, few issues are as heated – or as fraught with conflicting information – as the current debate over trade. And it’s not a national conversation, it’s a global conversation.

Our primary goal with this site is not to advocate for or against any particular trade policy, but to provide a fact-based context in which to understand this broader debate. We also hope that the ideas we share and generate with your help will spark policy innovation in the ever evolving landscape of trade policy.

The Hinrich Foundation research team contributes to the editorial content of TradeVistas.