[v. im-pawrt, -pohrt; n. im-pawrt, -pohrt]

In economics, an import is any good (e.g. a commodity) or service brought into one country from another country in a legitimate fashion, typically for use in trade. Import goods or services are provided to domestic consumers by foreign producers. An import in the receiving country is an export to the sending country.

Imports, along with exports, form the basis of international trade. Import of goods normally requires involvement of the Customs authorities in both the country of import and the country of export and are often subject to tariffs and trade agreements. While "imports" are the set of goods and services imported, "Imports" also means the economic value of all goods and services that are imported. The macroeconomic variable I usually stands for the value of these imports over a given period of time, usually one year.

Balance of trade

A country has demand for an import when domestic quantity demanded exceeds domestic quantity supplied, or when the price of the good (or service) on the world market is less than the price on the domestic market.

The balance of trade, usually denoted NX, is the difference between the value of the goods (and services) a country exports and the value of the goods the country imports.

NX = X - I, or equivalently I = X - NX

A trade deficit occurs when imports are large relative to exports. Imports are impacted principally by a country's income and its productive resources. For example, the US imports oil from Canada even though the US has oil and Canada uses oil. But consumers in the US are willing to pay more for the marginal 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 I can be modeled as a function of the domestic absorption A and the real exchange rate σ. These are the two largest factors of imports and they both affect imports positively.

I = I(A,σ)

Type of imports

There are two basic types of imports: 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.

Role of the Internet

Many online auction websites such as eBay are now providing wholesalers through a wholesale list, generally, the lists that require a fee to view, may not be updated frequently, the data may be old, and the companies listed may no longer be in business.

Another form of online middleman is B2B trade companies like Global Sources. These cater mainly to big businesses who are importing large quantities of goods from foreign countries. They also have sister sites that serve smaller orders for small businesses, like Global Sources Direct

In addressing the concerns of listed companies' legitimacy and dependability, such B2B portals may inspect suppliers at their actual premises before they list suppliers. The "verified suppliers" system of Global Sources is one such example.

Alternatively, these companies may also branch out of cyberspace and organize their own Sourcing Fairs, where thousands of buyers and suppliers can meet face-to-face. Two examples are Cantonfair and China Sourcing Fairs


See also

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