Export goods or services are provided to foreign consumers by domestic producers. Export of commercial quantities of goods normally requires involvement of the customs authorities in both the country of export and the country of import. The advent of small trades over the internet such as through Amazon and e-Bay have largely bypassed the involvement of Customs in many countries due to the low individual values of these trades. Nonetheless, these small exports are still subject to legal restrictions applied by the country of export.
Depending on the category the 'item' falls under, the company may need to obtain a license prior to exporting. EAR restrictions can vary from country to country. The most restricted destinations are the embargoed countries and those countries designated as supporting terrorist activities including Cuba, North Korea, Sudan, Syria and Iran (see: Sanctions against Iran). Some products have received worldwide restrictions prohibiting exports.
An item is considered an export whether or not it is leaving the United States temporarily, if it is leaving the United State but is not for sale (a gift), or if it is going to a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary in a foreign country. A foreign-origin item exported from the United States, transmitted or transhipped through the United States, or being returned from the United States to its foreign country of origin is considered an export.
How an item is transported outside of the United States does not matter in determining export license requirements.
Refer to U.S. Census Data for data on exports by industry for 2006.
International agreements limit trade in, and the transfer of, certain types of goods and information e.g. goods associated with weapons of mass destruction, arms and torture. Examples include Nuclear Suppliers Group - limiting trade in nuclear weapons and associated goods (currently only 45 countries participate), The Australia Group - limiting trade in chemical & biological weapons and associated goods (currently only 39 countries), Missile Technology Control Regime - limiting trade in the means of delivering weapons of mass destruction (currently only 34 countries) and The Wassenaar Arrangement - limiting trade in conventional arms and technological developments (currently only 40 countries).
Protective tariffs sometimes protect what are known as infant industries that are in the phase of expansive growth. A tariff is used temporarily to allow the industry to succeed in spite of strong competition. Protective tariffs are considered valid if the resources are more productive in their new use than they would be if the industry had not been started. The infant industry eventually must incorporate itself into a market without the protection of government subsidies.
Tariffs can create tension between countries. Examples include the United States steel tariff of 2002 and when China placed a 14% tariff on imported auto parts. Such tariffs usually lead to filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and, if that fails, could eventually head toward the country placing a tariff against the other nation in spite, to impress pressure to remove the tariff.
The effect of subsidies deters other countries that are able to produce a specific product or service at a faster, cheaper, and more productive rate. With the lowered price, these efficient producers cannot compete. The life of a subsidy is generally short-lived, but sometimes can be implemented on a more permanent basis.
The agricultural industry is commonly subsidized, both in the United States, and in other countries including Japan and nations located in the European Union (EU).
Critics argue such subsidies cost developing nations $24 billion annually in lost income according to a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute, a D.C. group funded partly by the World Bank. However, other nations are not the only economic 'losers'. Subsidies in the U.S. heavily depend upon taxpayer dollars. In 2000, the U.S. spent an all-time record $32.3 billion for the agricultural industry. The EU spends about $50 billion annually, nearly half its annual budget on its common agricultural policy and rural development.
The theory of comparative advantage materialized during the first quarter of the 19th century in the writings of 'classical economists'. While David Ricardo is most credited with the development of the theory (in Chapter 7 of his Principles of Political Economy, 1817), James Mills and Robert Torrens produced similar ideas. The theory states that all parties maximize benefit in an environment of unrestricted trade, even if absolute advantages in production exist between the parties.
In contrast to free trade, Mercantilism, the first systematic body of thought devoted to international trade, emerged during the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe. While most views surfacing from this school of thought differed, a commonly argued key objective of trade was to promote a "favorable" balance of trade, referring to a time when the value of domestic goods exported exceeds the value of foreign goods imported. The "favorable" balance in turn created a balance of trade surplus.
Mercantilists advocated that government policy directly arrange the flow of commerce to conform to their beliefs. They sought a highly interventionist agenda, using taxes on trade to manipulate the balance of trade or commodity composition of trade in favor of the home country.