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Balance Of Trade (BOT)

What is 'Balance Of Trade - BOT'

The balance of trade (BOT) is the difference between a country's imports and its exports for a given time period. The balance of trade is the largest component of the country's balance of payments (BOP). Economists use the BOT as a statistical tool to help them understand the relative strength of a country's economy versus other countries' economies and the flow of trade between nations. The balance of trade is also referred to as the trade balance or the international trade balance.

Explaining 'Balance Of Trade - BOT'

A country that imports more goods and services than it exports has a trade deficit. Conversely, a country exports more goods and services than it imports has a trade surplus. The formula for calculating the BOT can be simplified to imports minus exports. However, the actual calculation is comprised of several elements.

Detailed Formula for the Calculation of a Country's BOT

Debit items include imports, foreign aid, domestic spending abroad and domestic investments abroad. Credit items include exports, foreign spending in the domestic economy and foreign investments in the domestic economy. By subtracting the credit items from the debit items, economists arrive at a trade deficit or trade surplus for a given country over the period of a month, quarter or year.

Examples of Balance of Trade

There are countries where it is almost certain that a trade deficit will occur. For example, the United States has had a trade deficit since 1976, in large part due to its imports of oil and consumer products. Conversely, China, a country that produces and exports many of the world's consumable goods, has recorded a trade surplus since 1995.


Further Reading




Q&A About Balance Of Trade (BOT)


What are debits and credits on a BOT?

Debits include imports, foreign aid, domestic spending abroad and domestic investments abroad. Credits include exports, foreign spending in the domestic economy and foreign investments in the domestic economy.

Which countries have an almost certain chance to record a deficit on their BOT?

Countries that import oil or consumer products will most likely record a deficit on their BOT.

What does the balance of trade show?

The balance of trade shows a country's imports and exports for a given time period.

How is the balance of trade related to the balance of payments?

The balance of trade is the largest component in the country's balance of payments.