Issue

Trade

Behind almost every product we buy and the GDP numbers we worry over, there is a story whose trail crosses the globe. Every physical product starts as raw material somewhere, from the gold in our jewelry to the shrimp at our favorite restaurants and the minerals within our mobile phones and laptops.

The rapid industrialization of countries like India, China, and Brazil and a voracious consumer culture in Europe, the United States and Japan mean ever greater demand for these raw materials—and ever greater pressures on the individuals, communities, and environments that bear the cost of providing them.

These local costs too often remain hidden. They are obscured by companies and governments that put a premium on production and exports. They are little understood by consumers, whose concept of "price" and "value" does not include damage done to people and places far away.

Trade is an effort to make those connections plain, to show the true costs of producing the commodities that have become essential to our lifestyles but that we mostly take for granted. These reports touch on goods and challenges across the globe that share a common theme: the implications of a vision of endless prosperity set against the reality of a finite planet.

Trade

Impact of U.S.-China Trade War Felt in Both Countries

For decades, the world's two largest economies — the U.S. and China — have been integrated. But the Trump administration is now trying to undo that, as an escalating trade war impacts consumers and businesses in both countries.

Taking Stock of China’s Growing Power and Prosperity

When it comes to military strength, the global economy, and global influence, the two most important countries in the world are China and the U.S. And in recent years, both sides of that rivalry have become more combative.

Lifting the Veil on Polluters in China

In Beijing a tiny NGO is taking on global corporations and harnessing people power in a campaign to clean up polluting factories in China.

Costa Rica: Bribri Culture Under Threat

In the mountains of Costa Rica, the indigenous Bribri struggle to maintain their culture as an influx of technology transforms their community.

Who Makes Your Clothes?

This week: the dark history behind modern day cotton production, Saudi Arabia's religious exports, and the violent pursuit of sand.