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The Trade and Negotiations Program seeks to improve trade policymaking through research, dissemination of ideas, and teaching. It has a particular focus on the dynamics of international trade negotiations in multilateral, regional, and bilateral forums; on problems of global governance; and on international dispute settlement procedures at the World Trade Organization. The program conducts an executive program on The Practice of Trade Policy, and writes case studies covering major trade negotiations and disputes.

Faculty leadership

Robert Lawrence Photo

Robert Lawrence

Albert L. Williams Professor of International Trade and Investment
HKS Course: The Political Economy of Trade

This course for enrolled students focuses on the political economy of trade in goods and services across borders. Beyond the traditional subject matter of tariffs, quotas, and other border barriers, it covers newer issues that the system has incorporated in recent decades (e.g., services, capital, and intellectual property rights), still more topics that are politically linked to trade (e.g., labor rights and the environment), and the use of trade as a tool of foreign policy. The inter-disciplinary course involves considerable work with economic data, but places greater stress on pending issues and practical problems than on economic theory. Learn more.

Executive Education: Mastering Trade Policy

Globalization has made trade policy a more prominent and complex sphere of public policy. Policymakers, analysts, business people and activists must deal simultaneously with initiatives at the national, bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. This Executive Education course is designed for all trade practitioners. It teaches how to analyze, formulate, negotiate and implement effective policies and practices. It offers a practical approach that emphasizes the core competencies of successful practitioners as well as the latest political and policy developments in the field. Learn more.

Atlas of Economic Complexity: A tool for exploring trade

The Atlas of Economic Complexity, developed at Harvard’s Center for International Development, is a powerful data visualization tool that allows people to explore global trade flows across markets, track these dynamics over time and discover new growth opportunities for every country. The Atlas places the industrial capabilities and knowhow of a country at the heart of its growth prospects, where the diversity and complexity of existing capabilities heavily influence how growth happens. Learn more.

Featured Publications

China, Like the US, Faces Challenges in Achieving Inclusive Growth Through Manufacturing. Robert Lawrence, Peterson Institute for International Economics, August 2019

The Trilemma: Dani Rodrik’s views on trade, development, and democracy enter the mainstream.  Marina Bolotnikova, Harvard Magazine, July-August 2019

The sparring over trade. Robert Lawrence, Harvard Gazette, June 7, 2019

China tariffs may not be a negotiating ploy; they could be the goal. Q&A with Robert Lawrence, Sep 27, 2018

How To Avoid a Trade War. Dani Rodri, Project Syndicate, 

Donald Trump’s trade policy violates every rule of strategy. Lawrence H. Summers, June 5, 2018

What Do Trade Agreements Really Do? Dani Rodrik, Journal of Economic Perspectives. 2018

Straight Talk on Trade: Ideas for a Sane World Economy. Dani Rodrik, Princeton University Press, 2017

China's Rise and America's Welfare. Robert Z. Lawrence, Paper in PIIE Briefing 15-3 China's Economic Transformation: Lessons, Impact and the Path Forward, October 2015

Rising Tide: Is Growth in Emerging Markets Good for the United States? Robert Z. Lawrence with Lawrence Edwards Washington DC: The Peterson Institute for International Economics, March 2013

Additional Research and Op-Eds

No trade deal can dictate our relationship with China. Lawrence H. Summers, Washington Post, February 4, 2019

One Fewer Reason to Be Nervous About the G-20 This Weekend. Meghan O'Sullivan, Bloomberg Opinion, November 29, 2018

Donald Trump trade threats lack credibility. Lawrence H. Summers, April 8, 2018

Misconceptions on the Campaign Trail: American Workers Can’t Compete with Low-Wage Workers Abroad. Robert Z. Lawrence. Trade and Investment Policy Watch, The Peterson Institute for International Economics April 21st, 2016

Trump's Outrage over Outsourcing Doesn't Apply to His Own Merchandise. Robert Z. Lawrence, PBS Newshour March 2016

TPP benefits for workers far outweigh costs. Robert Z. Lawrence. Trade and Investment Policy Watch, The Peterson Institute for International Economics March 2016

Studies of TPP: Which Is Credible? Robert Z. Lawrence.  Trade and Investment Policy Watch, The Peterson Institute for International Economics Jan 29 2016

Adjustment and Income Distribution Impacts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Robert Z. Lawrence and Tyler Moran, Working Paper 16-5  Peterson Institute for International Economics, March 2016

Silk-Road Type Projects: Lessons from Some Historical Examples. Robert Z. Lawrence and Fredrick Toohey in PIIE Briefing 16-2 China's Belt and Road Initiative: Motives, Scope, and Challenges

Recent Declines in Labor's Share in US Income: A Preliminary NeoClassical Account. Robert Z. Lawrence, Peterson Institute for International Economics Working Paper WP15-10, June 2015