The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 51
4. It is false that imports and exports balance each other, since many countries import more than they export, and vice versa
4. It is false that imports and exports balance each other, since many countries import more than they export, and vice versa.
Why it is that some countries over-import and others over-export, we have just explained. But if we leave out those exports which are sent to pay a previous debt or to create a new one, we shall find that all other exports are balanced by corresponding imports. For, indeed, how otherwise could they possibly be paid? That they are not paid for in specie, we have seen; so that, if they are ever paid for at all, it must be in kind. All commercial transactions resolve themselves, directly or indirectly, into interchanges of commodities; so that, as we have said before, all commerce is barter; and there can (loan and investment payments excluded) be no import without an export to same amount, and vice versâ. Every purchase implies a corresponding sale.
It must be borne in mind that in speaking of the imports or the exports of a country we of course mean the total imports or the total exports of that country from, and to, the world at large, and not those from, or to, any one particular other country. Some have misapprehended this, and have applied what had reference to the total foreign trade of a country to the special trade between that and a single other country. The aggregate commercial imports and exports of each country must, as we have seen (that is, debt-payments excepted), balance each other, but it does not at all follow that the separate dealings between two individual countries will show a similar result. Over-imports from countries A, B, &c., will be counterpoised by over-exports to countries C, D, &c., and, in the aggregate, one will make up for the other, and the equilibrium between the total commercial imports and total commercial exports of each country will be maintained. To sum up, the truth page 17 is that For every Export of Goods to the World at Large, Except what is Sent to Pay a Previous Debt, or to Create a New One, there must be an Import of Goods from the World at Large to the Same Amount, and Vice Versa.