Pronunciation key

( ik-spôrt )
( ik-spōrt )

(also, and for n. & adj. always, ekspôrt)



[L. exportare; ex- out + portare to carry out. Compare with import, in + portare to carry in.].

  1. To transport a commodity abroad by sending out goods and services from one country to another esp. for trade and profit.


  1. A product that is exported.
  2. The act or process of exporting goods. Exportation.


  1. Pertaining to exporting or exports; for exportation.

—ex•port′a•bil′i•ty n. —ex•port′a•ble adj. —ex•port′er n.

Abbreviated as exp., ex.

Export and Import

In economics, exports are commodities which are produced or manufactured in one country and shipped to another. When the exported products reach their destination they are documented as an import by the nation which receive them. Among the leading commodities exported from the U.S. are machinery and vehicles, textiles, fibers and manufactures, nonmetallic minerals, vegetable food products and beverages. Listed below according to their respective significance as of December 1951.

Total U.S. export trade in dollars for the period 1941-1950.
1941 ………………… $ 5,147,154,000
1942 …………………    8,078,988,000
1943 …………………   12,964,906,000
1944 …………………   14,258,702,000
1945 …………………    9,805,625,000
1946 …………………    9,738,321,000
1947 …………………   14,429,747,000
1948 …………………   12,653,058,000
1949 …………………   12,051,055,000
1950 …………………   15,744,000,000

The following table lists the major U.S. exports and the respective monetary values in January 1951 and 1952

Jan. 1951 Jan. 1952
Industrial machinery 97.5 123.4
Grains and preparations 89.4 129.7
Automobiles, parts, accessories 72.8 77.9
Raw cotton 70.1 146.9
Iron and steel mill products 46.3 63.0
Electrical machinery 42.0 41.6
Petroleum and related products 40.3 65.0
Construction machinery 29.6 39.6
Cotton manufactures 27.3 27.4
Coal and related products 26.6 58.7
Tractors, Parts, Accessories 24.1 27.3
Tobacco and tobacco manufactures 22.5 25.7
Wood and Paper 21.3 28.0

A nation will export products under certain conditions such as being one of the world's sole suppliers of a certain product; or if it produces a product at a significantly lower cost than other nations and if the products are in high demand due to quality factors, or due to its ability to produce during a season of the year other nations need to import the product. Technical requirements of modern industry have tended to make nations more dependent upon one another for vital goods and services. Factors that determine any country's trade status include its natural resources, tastes, skills of its inhabitants, climate, location and the industrial development of the nation. Exports may include foodstuffs, raw materials and manufactured products. Industrialized nations with dense populations tend toward export of industrial products. The opposite is true in nations rich in minerals and agricultural resources, such as those in Latin America.

Many imports consist of products that are not produced domestically. For instance, the United States imports coffee from Africa and Latin America because the climate is not suitable for growing it at home. Olives, an export of the Mediterranean region are another product imported into the United States, however some states such as Arizona and California can produce olives, they simply do not produce enough quantity to meet demand of U.S. consumers and at a competitive price with the foreign market. It is for much of the same reason French perfume and Irish linens are imported into the United States.

National trends on imports and exports may change due to various factors such as developments in technology. For instance, if a discovery is made of synthetic substitutes for natural products it may reduce or nearly eliminate a need to import the natural products. A former importer may then become an exporter.

Innovations and new developments often create new patterns of trade. People in nations abroad want new products indifferent to whom produces them. Through the export and import process, people abroad share benefits of production. Foreign investors create change in international trading patterns with the addition of factories and jobs in foreign countries.

Policies at the federal level may affect exports and imports. For instance, a reduction in trade barriers increases imports of some products which are more efficiently produced abroad. Similarly, reduction of barriers to trade in foreign governments opens the market for domestic exports.

Federal policies are sometimes designed with certain economic developments in mind and have a significant effect on overall trade patterns of the country and its trade partners. It is these reasons which lead to conferences through international organizations where agreements are struck, such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

The total value of imports by a nation must be at least equal in value to its total exports. Each purchase by an importing nation represents a sale by an exporting country and payment must be made. This equivalence is called the balance of payments. Nations may import more goods than they export just as long as a means of payment will be made available. Such supplementary sources of foreign exchange are known as invisible exports and might be comprised of items such as receipts from tourists, shipping, grants or loans from the government of foreign countries, insurance and interest or profit from international investment. Payments might also be balanced through the export of gold.

Also see Balance of Trade


  • Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language (College Edition) ©1955
  • The New World Family Encyclopedia ©1955
  • The American Peoples Encyclopedia ©1960
  • The World Book Encyclopedia ©1981
  • The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition ©1985
  • Related Terms

  • exportation
  • Eximbank / Export Import Bank
  • Further Reading

  • Export (Definition)
  • Export (Definition)
  • Export (Definition)
  • Export (Definition)
  • Deemed Exports Department of Commerce
  • Exports, European Union
  • Import and Exports, USDA
  • Exports, Australia
  • U.S. Oil Exports Banned for 40 Years
  • Exports, Small Business Administration
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