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date: 16 August 2017

American Foreign Economic Policy

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History. Please check back later for the full article.

Foreign economic policy involves the mediation and management of economic flows across borders. Over two-and-a-half centuries, the context for U.S. foreign economic policy has undergone dramatic change. Once a fledgling republic on the periphery of the world economy, the United States has become the world’s largest economy, the arbiter of international economic order, and a predominant influence on the world economy. Throughout this transformation, the making of foreign economic policy has involved delicate tradeoffs between diverse interests—political and material, foreign and domestic, sectional and sectoral, and so on. Ideas and beliefs have also shaped U.S. foreign economic policy—from Enlightenment-era convictions in the pacifying effects of international commerce to late 20th-century convictions about the efficacy of free markets. U.S. foreign economic policy, broad in remit, expanded in scope and reach as the United States came, in the 20th century, to exercise managerial responsibility for the world economy.