trade deficit

noun
Updated on: 13 Oct 2017

Definition of trade deficit

finance
:a situation in which a country buys more from other countries than it sells to other countries :the amount of money by which a country's imports are greater than its exports

Word by Word Definitions

trade play
  1. : the business of buying and selling or bartering commodities : commerce

  2. : business, market

  3. : dealings between persons or groups

  1. : to give one thing in exchange for another

  2. : to engage in the exchange, purchase, or sale of goods

  3. : to make one's purchases : shop

  1. : of, relating to, or used in trade

  2. : intended for or limited to persons in a business or industry

  3. : serving others in the same business rather than the ultimate user or consumer

deficit play
  1. : deficiency in amount or quality

  2. : a lack or impairment in an ability or functional capacity

  3. : disadvantage


Financial Definition of TRADE DEFICIT

trade deficit

What It Is

When the value of a country's imports exceeds the value of its exports, the resulting negative number is called a trade deficit.

How It Works

Balance of trade (BOT; also called the "trade balance") is a measure of a country's exports minus its imports. BOT is a component of a country's balance of payments (BOP) as is calculated for a particular period (usually a quarter or a year). In the United States, the Bureau of Economic Analysis calculates the BOT.

For example, if the value of imported items to the United States equaled $1 trillion last year, but the value of exported items from the United States equaled $750 billion, then the United States would have a negative $250 billion BOP, or a $250 billion trade deficit.

Why It Matters

Countries have various methods for calculating BOT, but the objective is to help economists and analysts understand the strength of a country's economy in relation to other countries. For example, a country with a large trade deficit is essentially borrowing money to purchase goods and services, but a country with a large trade surplus is essentially doing the opposite. In some cases, the BOT correlates with the country's political stability because it is indicative of the level of foreign investment occurring there.

As mentioned, the BOT is part of the BOP, which is actually composed of three subaccounts in the United States: the current account, the capital account, and the financial account, each of which have their own types of inflows and outflows. The BOT is part of the current account, which is composed of merchandise trade, services, income receipts, and one-way transfers such as foreign aid.


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