Trade Policy Field Guide


Trade policy directly affects virtually all industries. Trade policy and promotion includes a variety of activities including analysis of markets, increasing attendance at trade events, identifying agents and distributors, and disseminating information on export financing. Additional activities include representing business interests with officials of foreign governments, national government agencies, international organizations, and trade missions; identifying joint venture partners; researching development projects; and understanding foreign standards, testing, and certification requirements.

Career Opportunities

Communication between business and government is critical given that US government policies directly affect a company’s international business. Therefore, people who have held positions in the public sector have experience critical to a firm’s international activities. Export promotion at the Department of Commerce, export licensing at the State Department, and trade finance at the Department of Treasury are a few examples of public sector work that would be considered desirable. The legislative branch also provides a setting for graduates seeking to develop knowledge valuable to global corporations. An individual who understands how government works and how to influence policy to the business sector’s advantage is a particularly attractive candidate. In the private sector, graduates will spend a considerable amount of time monitoring government activities to identify policies that could affect their organization and try to influence those policies. Again, a solid understanding of government procedures and intimate knowledge of key issues surrounding your business or industry is essential, as is the ability to research and analyze markets trends and political developments, both nationally and internationally. Inside knowledge of the federal government would be a great asset to any business seeking to influence trade policy.

Types of Jobs

  • Researcher
  • Project coordinator
  • Government relations assistant
  • Economic analyst
  • Public relations specialist
  • Trade policy associate

Qualifications + Skills

  • Strong written and oral communication skills, especially in persuasion
  • Public speaking and presentation skills
  • Knowledge of government processes
  • Intimate knowledge of current trade policy and regulations
  • Functional expertise in areas such as international finance, political risk
  • Foreign language proficiency
  • Excellent quantitative and qualitative skills

Sample Employers

  • Associations: International Trade Administration, Federation of International Trade Associations, National Foreign Trade Council, U.S. Council for International Business, U.S. Small Business Association, International Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Private Sector: AT&T, Eastman Kodak, ExxonMobil, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Motorola, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Pepsi-Cola International, Procter & Gamble
  • Federal Government: Department of Commerce, Department of the Treasury, Export-Import Bank of the United States, Federal Trade Commission, Foreign Agricultural Service, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Trade Information Center, U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. International Trade Commission, U.S. Trade and Development Agency

Sample Maxwell Classes

  • Policy and Administration in Developing Countries
  • Economics of Development
  • Stabilization & Growth in Emerging Markets
  • Business and Government in a Global Economy
  • UN Organizations: Managing for Change
  • Challenges of International Management and Leadership
  • Humanitarian Action: Challenges, Responses and Results
  • Culture & World Affairs
  • Social Policy: Financing the Poor
  • Public Finance: A Comparative Perspective


  • Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
  • Overseas Private Investment Corporation
  • U.S. International Trade Commission
  • U.S. Trade and Development Agency
  • World Trade Organization

Related Career Guides

  • U.S. Federal Government
  • International Development
  • International Finance Institutions
  • Energy and Environment

>> Download a printable, PDF version of the Trade Policy Career Field Guide.