Visible balance

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"Cedric Vute"

The visible trade balance is that part of the balance of trade figures that refers to international trade in physical goods, but not trade in services; it thus contrasts with the invisible balance.

Most countries do not have a zero visible balance: they usually run a surplus or a deficit; this will be offset by trade in services, other income transfers, investments and monetary flows, leading to an overall balance of payments. The visible balance is affected by changes in the volumes of imports and exports, and also by changes in the terms of trade.

In aggregate, the World often appears to have a negative visible balance with itself; i.e. imports of goods appear to exceed exports. There are numerous causes for this, such as measuring imports on a cost, insurance and freight basis while measuring exports on a free on board basis, or statistical errors occurring when imports are more closely recorded than exports.