Difference Between Import and Export

We explain the difference between import and export, the function of each one and its intervention in international trade.

Difference Between Import and Export
Import and export allows countries to obtain goods produced abroad.

What is the difference between import and export?

Import and export are two common concepts in the world of international trade, and that can be understood as the operation of acquisition and transport of goods from one country to another: these goods are imported when they are purchased abroad and distributed within the country, and exported when they are manufactured in the country and sold to foreign consumers.

Both operations make up international trade, which is the tool that countries have to obtain the goods and services offered by other nations, and thus compensate for what is not available in their own territory. Furthermore, imports and exports make up what is known as a nation’s balance of trade: the balance (if any) between what is bought and what is sold abroad.

Importation is key for countries to have access to materials and services that are scarce in their own territory, and that instead the selling country has excess. However, this has a notable impact on local trade, since imported products can compete in price and quality with national products.

Instead, exporting is a way of dealing with the excess production of the local supplythus obtaining extra money to allocate to savings, or to local improvement.

The public or private initiatives that are dedicated to these operations are known, logically, as importers or exporters, and their purchases or sales are governed both by the local legislation of their countries, as well as by internationally rigorous commercial agreements and statutes.

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Normally, countries usually impose taxes on imported merchandise to collect from the treasury and to make their consumption value more expensive, thus protecting local producers of the same item.

But when free trade agreements and other similar provisions are signed, a freer and easier flow of merchandise is allowed, without customs impediments or as many taxes, which directly affects import and export rates.

Finally, goods and services brought into a country from abroad are called imported goods or imports, while goods and services offered abroad are called exported goods or exports.

Continue with: Foreign trade


  • “Import” on Wikipedia.
  • “Export” on Wikipedia.
  • “Difference between import and export” at EAE Business School.
  • “What do you mean import and export?” in University UTEL Blog.
  • “What is the difference between import and export?” (video) at the National Institute of Foreign Trade and Customs (Mexico).