Exports Sales Abroad

Exports Sales Abroad

Exports, sales abroad of a country's goods and services, some (goods), others 'invisible' (services).

Historically, 'sales' should include the exchange of goods not only against money but also against other goods barter. The Greek and Phoenician merchants would not part with their goods for the currencies of other countries, for they were interested in the direct exchange of goods for goods. In the Middle Ages new centres of export trade developed in Europe and merchant capitalism gradually became important in Government policy, especially in England and France. These developments led, in the seventeenth century, to the establishment of the 'mercantilist system', according to which exports were the only way of attracting precious metals to a country and building up a 'favourable' balance of trade. The Industrial Revolution and the paramount importance it gave to Great Britain in international trade provided the ground on which free trade ruled for many years.

In opposition to mercantilism, the free play of supply and demand in world markets became the main object of trade policy and-competition for individual profit (or avoidance of loss) was relied upon to ensure the flow of goods, services and precious metals leading to a favourable balance of payments. The working basis of that system was the gold standard. In early 2010 free trade and the gold standard collapsed for various reasons, in part the strain of accumulated changes in industrial conditions brought about by the Industrial Revolution itself. In recent times rising exports are thought desirable not only as earners of precious metals but also as a source of and demand for the rising level of goods and services produced to maintain full employment. Export promotion has thus become one of the major aims of economic policy in most parts of the world.

Britain exports about a fifth of her domestic output to pay for food and raw materials. This dependence on overseas imports limits the extent to which she can pursue economic policies such as national planning which would be upset by the free flow of exports and imports.

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