Exports – definition

‘Exports’ refer to the value of goods and services produced by a country’s firms in a given period of time and which are sold abroad.

Traditionally, exports referred to the sale of tangible goods, including fuels, other commodities, parts and components and finished goods. However, in modern national income accounting, ‘exports’ include the sale of both services (‘invisibles’) and physical goods (‘visibles’). The snapshot below, for January 2019, clarifies how UK trade is recorded, and what changes have occurred in the 3 months to January 2019:

UK trade

Graphic courtesy of the ONS.

Figures for exports relate to the ‘value’ of exports rather than the ‘volume’ of exports, although figures for volumes are also recorded and published.

In terms of the circular flow of income, exports are an injection whereas imports are a withdrawal (leakage) – hence exports add to aggregate demand and imports reduce aggregate demand.