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

Why China’s Art Market Is Evolving From Knockoffs to New Works

In the past, China was better known for producing 75 percent of the world’s art knockoffs than for its own creative innovation. Today, that is changing, as Chinese artists are reviving what they call the country’s “cultural aristocracy” by producing original art.

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.

Promises, Promises: One Year After Rana Plaza

One year after the collapse of Rana Plaza many workers in Bangladesh still depend on garment-making—despite the low wages and high safety risk that come with the job.

Powering Up Brazil

How can you provide power for a country of 200 million people? This series examines Brazil's energy needs as one of the biggest economic players.

Bangladesh: The Real Cost of Fast Fashion

The Rana Plaza tragedy exposed the hidden cost of Bangladesh’s $20 billion-a-year export garment industry. Jason Motlagh returns to investigate the systemic problems that led to the deadly collapse.

The Fight Over Chile's Marine Resources

Chile's coastal waters are among the richest in the world, but years of exploitation have exacted a toll on resources. As Congress debates a solution, fishing outfits scrap for their survival.

China's Bloody Frontier in Zambia

China's investment in Zambia holds promise: billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. But after violent conflict between Zambian miners and their Chinese supervisors, does it also pose a threat?

The Cost of Gold: Child Labor in Burkina Faso

In just a quarter century, one of the world's poorest countries has transformed itself into Africa's fourth-largest producer of gold. But at what cost to the children who labor in the mines?