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Invisible Exports


EXPORTS, INVISIBLE. While, broadly speaking, it is true that imports must always be paid for by exports and vice versa, this payment is not always made in actual physical goods or bullion and specie. Other factors play their part in the balance sheet of a country's financial and commercial condition, and those which fill an economic role similar to exports are known as "invisible exports." Among the more important of such factors which can thus be offset against imports are the 'following: (I) earnings of national ships in the trade of foreign countries; (2) disbursements of foreign shipping in national ports for harbour dues, bunker coal and other stores, repairs, etc. ; (3) expenditure of foreign tourists in the country; (4) emigrants' remittances to friends and relations in the country; (5) loans raised abroad; (6) receipts on account of interest on or amortisation of national capital invested abroad; (7) commissions, royalties, brokerage, etc., earned by nationals for services rendered to foreigners (in surance, etc.) ; (8) government receipts from overseas (including repayment of and interest on loans by the national government to foreign governments). In some cases separation is made between items which may be termed "revenue" (as interest, earnings, etc.) and those which are of a "capital" nature (as repayment of loans, loans raised abroad), while in some cases "revenue" items only are taken into account. While it is impossible to make exact cal culations as to the value of many of these items, governments are usually in a position to make estimates as to the approximate magnitude of some or all of the various factors which operate in balancing the economic situation of their countries; in some cases, however, the task of making—or at least of publishing— such an estimate is left to a financial institution or economic jour nal. In some cases, only the balance after deducting the corre sponding "invisible imports" items is published.

Great Britain.

The economic balance sheet for the United Kingdom is prepared and published by the Board of Trade early in the ensuing year in the Board of Trade Journal under the caption "The Balance of Trade." This estimate is of a pro visional nature, and is accompanied by a revision of •the figures for the previous year or years, in the view of more complete in formation which has since become available, and brief notes as to the basis of the estimates used. The published figures relate only to balances after deducting the corresponding "import" items, and (except as regards Government expenditure and receipts) to "revenue" transactions only.

The following table gives the figures (together with revised fig ures for 1925 and 1926) so far as "export" items are concerned.

United States.—The Department of Commerce, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, publishes annually, under the title "The Balance of International Payments of the United States," an extensive report that gives a balance sheet of imports and exports both visible and invisible. The following table is taken from that report and covers the year 1937: In the foregoing it will be noted the U.S. had a favourable bal ance of trade on exports and imports of merchandise (visible items) in 1937. In other words, the U.S. sold $298,000,000 more in goods abroad than it bought abroad. The invisible items, how ever, were so large that the U.S. had an unfavourable balance on the total of trade and service items in its foreign commerce. In other words, the U.S. spent $24,000,000 more than it received from abroad. Conspicuous in the invisible items is that of 000,000 spent abroad by U.S. tourists in 1937, while foreign tour ists spent only $156,000,00o in the U.S. Immigrants sent to foreign countries $170,000,00o in 1937 while they sent only $25, 000.000 to the U.S., leaving an unfavourable balance of 000,000 against the U.S. It will be noted also in the table that the U.S. contributed $35,000,00o for charitable and educational purposes abroad in 1937 but received no similar contributions from abroad. On the invisible item of interest and dividends the U.S. received $6o8,000,000 and paid out only $278,000,000. In addition to the foregoing the total net imports of gold and silver in the U.S. in 1937 (including reported ear-marking operations) was $1.469,000,000. The U.S. sold in 1937 to foreigners $522, 000,000 of securities. Of this amount $245,000,000 was foreign securities.

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