Balance of Trade

Balance of Trade (BOT) is the difference in the value of all exports and imports of a particular nation over a period of time. A positive or favorable trade balance occurs when exports exceed imports. A negative or unfavorable balance occurs when the opposite happens. Simply put, if a country exports more than what it imports, for a given period of time, it has a positive BOT.

BOT is most often the largest component of a country’s current account or Balance of Payment (BOP) and is a crucial reflection of a country’s business scenario. Moreover, the BOP data also highlights key inferences from the past performances, which help create better strategies for future. The components contributing heavily to exports/imports can be readily identified and improved upon.

Let’s take a look at an example.


Country X exports $1 billion of goods and services for the financial year 2015-2016, while in the same period it imported $1.5 billion of goods. Thus, this country has an unfavorable balance because it imports more than it exports. This is typically considered unfavorable because it shows how little the country produces and how dependent it is on foreign countries.

Country X is a reputed player in the rubber products industry, owing to the climate that accentuates rubber cultivation. It also has a majority share in its export portfolio.

The political and business leaders focus heavily on the same and ensure more and more rubber exports in coming years. However, this has led to jeopardized attention to food grains cultivation, which was observed from the high import value in the balance of trade figures of the particular year.

As such, it becomes imperative to the policy makers that it’s good to focus largely on the main profit centers, but not at the cost of the very basic necessities being left untouched. This can result in costlier imports. Moreover, the BOT data also reflects how effectively a nation has been using its key factors of production in the past and clearly depicts the outlook a nation is heading forth with.

Balance of Trade: BOT means the discrepancy between a countries’s exported goods and services and its imported goods and services.

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