Foreign trade

Foreign trade in India includes all imports and exports to and from India. At the level of Central Government, it is administered by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) which provides the basic framework of policy and strategy to be followed for promoting exports and trade. The Trade Policy is periodically reviewed to incorporate changes necessary to take care of emerging economic scenarios both in the domestic and international economy. Besides, the Department is also entrusted with responsibilities relating to multilateral and bilateral commercial relations, Special Economic Zones, state trading, export promotion and trade facilitation, and development and regulation of certain export-oriented industries and commodities.

Foreign trade is nothing but trade between the different countries of the world. It is also called as International trade, External trade or Inter-Regional trade. It consists of imports, exports and entrepot. The inflow of goods in a country is called import trade whereas outflow of goods from a country is called export trade. Many times goods are imported for the purpose of re-export after some processing operations. This is called entrepot trade. Foreign trade basically takes place for mutual satisfaction of wants and utilities of resources.

Must Read: Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

3 Types of Foreign Trade

Foreign Trade can be divided into following three groups :-

Import Trade : Import trade refers to purchase of goods by one country from another country or inflow of goods and services from foreign country to home country.

Export Trade : Export trade refers to the sale of goods by one country to another country or outflow of goods from home country to foreign country.

Entrepot Trade : Entrepot trade is also known as Re-export. It refers to the purchase of goods from one country and then selling them to another country after some processing operations.

Need and Importance of Foreign Trade

Following points explain the need and importance of foreign trade to a nation.

  • Division of labour and specialisation – Foreign trade leads to division of labour and specialisation at the world level. Some countries have abundant natural resources. They should export raw materials and import finished goods from countries which are advanced in skilled manpower. This gives benefits to all the countries and thereby leading to the division of labour and specialisation. 
  • Optimum allocation and utilisation of resources – Due to specialisation, unproductive lines can be eliminated and wastage of resources avoided. In other words, resources are channelised for the production of only those goods which would give highest returns. Thus, there is rational allocation and utilisation of resources at the international level due to foreign trade.
  • Equality of prices – Prices can be stabilised by foreign trade. It helps to keep the demand and supply position stable, which in turn stabilises the prices, making allowances for transport and other marketing expenses.
  • Availability of multiple choices – Foreign trade helps in providing a better choice to the consumers. It helps in making available new varieties to consumers all over the world.
  • Ensures quality and standard goods – Foreign trade is highly competitive. To maintain and increase the demand for goods, the exporting countries have to keep up the quality of goods. Thus, quality and standardised goods are produced.
  • Raises standard of living of the people – Imports can facilitate standard of living of the people. This is because people can have a choice of new and better varieties of goods and services. By consuming new and better varieties of goods, people can improve their standard of living.
  • Generate employment opportunities – Foreign trade helps in generating employment opportunities, by increasing the mobility of labour and resources. It generates direct employment in import sector and indirect employment in other sectors of the economy. Such as Industry, Service Sector (insurance, banking, transport, communication), etc.
  • Facilitate economic development – Imports facilitate economic development of a nation. This is because, with the import of capital goods and technology, a country can generate growth in all sectors of the economy, i.e. agriculture, industry and service sector.
  • Assitance during natural calamities – During natural calamities such as earthquakes, floods, famines, etc., the affected countries face the problem of shortage of essential goods. Foreign trade enables a country to import food grains and medicines from other countries to help the affected people.
  • Maintains the balance of payment position – Every country has to maintain its balance of payment position. Since, every country has to import, which results in the outflow of foreign exchange, it also deals in export for the inflow of foreign exchange.
  • Brings reputation and helps earn goodwill – A country which is involved in exports earns goodwill in the international market. For e.g. Japan has earned a lot of goodwill in foreign markets due to its exports of quality electronic goods.
  • Promotes World Peace – Foreign trade brings countries closer. It facilitates the transfer of technology and other assistance from developed countries to developing countries. It brings different countries closer due to economic relations arising out of trade agreements. Thus, foreign trade creates a friendly atmosphere for avoiding wars and conflicts. It promotes world peace as such countries try to maintain friendly relations among themselves.

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Balance of Trade

India Balance of Trade

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