The term import is derived from the conceptual meaning as to bring in the goods and services into the port of a country. The buyer of such goods and services is referred to an "importer" who is based in the country of import whereas the overseas based seller is referred to as an "exporter". Thus an import is any good
Good (economics and accounting)
In economics, a good is something that is intended to satisfy some wants or needs of a consumer and thus has economic utility. It is normally used in the plural form—goods—to denote tangible commodities such as products and materials....

 (e.g. a commodity
In economics, a commodity is the generic term for any marketable item produced to satisfy wants or needs. Economic commodities comprise goods and services....

) or service brought in from one country to another country in a legitimate fashion, typically for use in trade
Trade is the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another. Trade is sometimes loosely called commerce or financial transaction or barter. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and...

. It is a good that is brought in from another country for sale. Import goods or services are provided to domestic consumer
Consumer is a broad label for any individuals or households that use goods generated within the economy. The concept of a consumer occurs in different contexts, so that the usage and significance of the term may vary.-Economics and marketing:...

s by foreign producer
Production, costs, and pricing
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to industrial organization:Industrial organization – describes the behavior of firms in the marketplace with regard to production, pricing, employment and other decisions...

s. An import in the receiving country is an export
The term export is derived from the conceptual meaning as to ship the goods and services out of the port of a country. The seller of such goods and services is referred to as an "exporter" who is based in the country of export whereas the overseas based buyer is referred to as an "importer"...

 to the sending country.

Imports, along with exports, form the basis of international trade
International trade
International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories. In most countries, such trade represents a significant share of gross domestic product...

. Import of goods normally requires involvement of the customs
Customs is an authority or agency in a country responsible for collecting and safeguarding customs duties and for controlling the flow of goods including animals, transports, personal effects and hazardous items in and out of a country...

 authorities in both the country of import and the country of export
The term export is derived from the conceptual meaning as to ship the goods and services out of the port of a country. The seller of such goods and services is referred to as an "exporter" who is based in the country of export whereas the overseas based buyer is referred to as an "importer"...

 and are often subject to import quota
Import quota
An import quota is a type of protectionist trade restriction that sets a physical limit on the quantity of a good that can be imported into a country in a given period of time....

s, tariff
A tariff may be either tax on imports or exports , or a list or schedule of prices for such things as rail service, bus routes, and electrical usage ....

s and trade agreements. When the "imports" are the set of goods and services imported, "Imports" also means the economic value
Value (economics)
An economic value is the worth of a good or service as determined by the market.The economic value of a good or service has puzzled economists since the beginning of the discipline. First, economists tried to estimate the value of a good to an individual alone, and extend that definition to goods...

 of all goods and services that are imported. The macroeconomic
Macroeconomics is a branch of economics dealing with the performance, structure, behavior, and decision-making of the whole economy. This includes a national, regional, or global economy...

 variable I usually stands for the value of these imports over a given period of time, usually one year.


"Imports" consist of transactions in goods and services (sales, barter, gifts or grants) from non-residents residents to residents. The exact definition of imports in national accounts
National accounts
National accounts or national account systems are the implementation of complete and consistent accounting techniques for measuring the economic activity of a nation. These include detailed underlying measures that rely on double-entry accounting...

 includes and excludes specific "borderline" cases. A general delimitation of imports in national accounts is given below:
  • An import of a good occurs when there is a change of ownership from a non-resident to a resident; this does not necessarily imply that the good in question physically crosses the frontier. However, in specific cases national accounts impute changes of ownership even though in legal terms no change of ownership takes place (e.g. cross border financial leasing, cross border deliveries between affiliates of the same enterprise, goods crossing the border for significant processing to order or repair). Also smuggled goods must be included in the import measurement.
  • Imports of services consist of all services rendered by non-residents to residents. In national accounts any direct purchases by residents outside the economic territory of a country are recorded as imports of services; therefore all expenditure by tourists in the economic territory of another country are considered as part of the imports of services. Also international flows of illegal services must be included.

Basic trade statistics often differ in terms of definition and coverage from the requirements in the national accounts:
  • Data on international trade in goods are mostly obtained through declarations to custom services. If a country applies the general trade system, all goods entering the country are recorded as imports. If the special trade system (e.g. extra-EU trade statistics) is applied goods which are received into customs warehouses are not recorded in external trade statistics unless they subsequently go into free circulation of the importing country.
  • A special case is the intra-EU trade statistics. Since goods move freely between the member states of the EU without customs controls, statistics on trade in goods between the member states must be obtained through surveys. To reduce the statistical burden on the respondents small scale traders are excluded from the reporting obligation.
  • Statistical recording of trade in services is based on declarations by banks to their central banks or by surveys of the main operators. In a globalized economy where services can be rendered via electronic means (e.g. internet) the related international flows of services are difficult to identify.
  • Basic statistics on international trade normally do not record smuggled goods or international flows of illegal services. A small fraction of the smuggled goods and illegal services may nevertheless be included in official trade statistics through dummy shipments or dummy declarations that serve to conceal the illegal nature of the activities.

Balance of trade

Balance of trade represents a difference in value for import and export for a country. A country has demand
Demand (economics)
In economics, demand is the desire to own anything, the ability to pay for it, and the willingness to pay . The term demand signifies the ability or the willingness to buy a particular commodity at a given point of time....

 for an import when domestic quantity demanded exceeds domestic quantity supplied
Supply (economics)
In economics, supply is the amount of some product producers are willing and able to sell at a given price all other factors being held constant. Usually, supply is plotted as a supply curve showing the relationship of price to the amount of product businesses are willing to sell.In economics the...

, or when the price
-Definition:In ordinary usage, price is the quantity of payment or compensation given by one party to another in return for goods or services.In modern economies, prices are generally expressed in units of some form of currency...

 of the good (or service) on the world market
World economy
The world economy, or global economy, generally refers to the economy, which is based on economies of all of the world's countries, national economies. Also global economy can be seen as the economy of global society and national economies – as economies of local societies, making the global one....

 is less than the price on the domestic market
Domestic market
A domestic market is a financial market. Its trades are aimed toward a single market. A domestic market is also referred to as domestic trading...


The balance of trade
Balance of trade
The balance of trade is the difference between the monetary value of exports and imports of output in an economy over a certain period. It is the relationship between a nation's imports and exports...

, usually denoted , is the difference between the value of the goods (and services) a country exports and the value of the goods the country imports:

, or equivalently

A trade deficit occurs when imports are large relative to exports. Imports are impacted principally by a country's income
Income is the consumption and savings opportunity gained by an entity within a specified time frame, which is generally expressed in monetary terms. However, for households and individuals, "income is the sum of all the wages, salaries, profits, interests payments, rents and other forms of earnings...

 and its productive resources. For example, the US imports oil
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 from Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 even though the US has oil and Canada uses oil. However, consumers
Consumer is a broad label for any individuals or households that use goods generated within the economy. The concept of a consumer occurs in different contexts, so that the usage and significance of the term may vary.-Economics and marketing:...

 in the US are willing to pay
Willingness to pay
In economics, the willingness to pay is the maximum amount a person would be willing to pay, sacrifice or exchange in order to receive a good or to avoid something undesired, such as pollution...

 more for the marginal
Marginalism refers to the use of marginal concepts in economic theory. Marginalism is associated with arguments concerning changes in the quantity used of a good or service, as opposed to some notion of the over-all significance of that class of good or service, or of some total quantity...

 barrel of oil than Canadian consumers are, because there is more oil demanded in the US than there is oil produced.

In macroeconomic theory, the value of imports can be modeled as a function of the domestic absorption
Absorption (economics)
Absorption is the total demand for all final marketed goods and services by all economic agents resident in an economy, regardless of the origin of the goods and services themselves...

  and the real exchange rate . These are the two largest factors of imports and they both affect imports positively:

Types of import

There are two basic types of import:
  1. Industrial and consumer goods
  2. Intermediate goods and services

Companies import goods and services to supply to the domestic market at a cheaper price and better quality than competing goods manufactured in the domestic market. Companies import products that are not available in the local market.

There are three broad types of importers:
  1. Looking for any product around the world to import and sell.
  2. Looking for foreign sourcing to get their products at the cheapest price.
  3. Using foreign sourcing as part of their global supply chain
    Supply chain
    A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. Supply chain activities transform natural resources, raw materials and components into a finished product that is delivered to...


Direct imports
Direct Imports are products imported directly into a country and not through the manufacturer's authorized agent/distributor. Since there is no factory-authorized middleman involved in the import of these products, the added costs are lower and the customer pays less...

 refers to a type of business importation involving a major retailer (e.g. Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. , branded as Walmart since 2008 and Wal-Mart before then, is an American public multinational corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores and warehouse stores. The company is the world's 18th largest public corporation, according to the Forbes Global 2000...

) and an overseas manufacturer. A retailer typically purchases products designed by local companies that can be manufactured overseas. In a direct-import program, the retailer bypasses the local supplier (colloquial middle-man) and buys the final product directly from the manufacturer, possibly saving in added costs. This type of business is fairly recent and follows the trends of the global economy
Economic globalization
Economic globalization refers to increasing economic interdependence of national economies across the world through a rapid increase in cross-border movement of goods, service, technology and capital...


Statistical data

Data on the value of imports and their quantities often broken down by detailed lists of products are available in statistical collections on international trade published by the statistical services of intergovernmental organisations (e.g. UNSTAT, FAOSTAT, OECD), supranational statistical institutes (e.g. Eurostat
Eurostat is a Directorate-General of the European Commission located in Luxembourg. Its main responsibilities are to provide the European Union with statistical information at European level and to promote the integration of statistical methods across the Member States of the European Union,...

) and national statistical institutes.

External links

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