Imports, Import Trade, Importing Goods and Services

June 29, 2010International Tradeby EconomyWatch


Imports are goods that are legally shipped from one country to another. Import trade involves customs authorities from both the countries. Along with exports, importing goods and services forms the foundation of international trade.

Import Trade: Dynamics

To import its goods from a foreign country, every firm needs to obtain an import permit or license to receive its goods. In compliance with the WTO agreement, the issuance of an import license is preceded by an application. This application is submitted to the appropriate administrative body as a prerequisite condition for import trade.

Before the goods (especially edibles) are actually imported, they have to undergo a quality test. Certain goods which may endanger a country’s health or safety will not be permitted into the country legally. These may include seemingly harmless products like meat, pets and textiles to more dangerous ones such as firearms.

Goods can be imported only after the customs clearance.

Import Trade: Tariff

An import tariff is a tax that is charged by the government on those goods that have been transported to its territories from other countries. Generally, the tariff of goods is evaluated at the time of the goods’ importation. Other taxes such as custom fees, sales tax and state taxes can also be levied on the imported cargo.

Different duties or tariffs are applicable to imported goods, based on their categorization. This categorization may vary among nations. Once the category is identified, calculating the tariff for a specific item in a particular country becomes easier.

Import tariffs are levied to secure a country’s domestic products and market, often meaning that imported goods are more expensive than locally produced ones.

Import Trade: Major Importers

The WTO published a report in 2008 listing the major importing nations:

  • The United States imports $2.17 trillion worth of goods

  • Germany imports $1.21 trillion worth of goods

  • China imports $1.13 trillion worth of goods

  • Japan imports $762 billion worth of goods

  • France imports $708 billion worth of goods

  • Britain imports $632 billion worth of goods

  • Netherlands imports $574 billion worth of goods

  • Italy imports $556 billion worth of goods

  • Belgium imports $470 billion worth of goods

  • South Korea imports $435 billion worth of goods

The main import-oriented ports of the world are:

  • Port of Shanghai

  • the Port of New York

  • the Port of Rotterdam

  • Le Havre

  • the Toronto Harbor
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