June 22, 2024 

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TRADING BLOC: A group of countries that are economically intertwined, share some common cultural background, are located close together, and coordinate their foreign trade policies. There are three trading blocs of note, North America, Europe, and Asia, although other portions of the globe aspire to this status. The North American bloc centers around the good old U. S. of A. with Canada and Mexico playing increasingly important roles. The European bloc contains most of the Western Europe with leading roles played by Germany, Britain, and France. Japan is the center of the Asian bloc that includes Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and several others.

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The aggregate macroeconomic sector that contains everyone and everything beyond the political boundaries of the domestic economy--including households, businesses, and governments in other countries. The primary function of the foreign sector is to undertake external activity that is outside the control of the domestic economy. This is one of the four macroeconomic sectors. The other three are household sector, business sector, and government sector.
The foreign sector includes anything and everything that lies beyond the borders of a nation. The primary role it plays in the domestic economy is foreign trade. The domestic household, business, and government sectors purchase imports produced in the foreign sector. The foreign sector then buys exports produced by the domestic business sector.

What It Does: External Activity

While the foreign sector is designated based on WHO is included (other countries), this sector is also important for WHAT it represents (everything else).

The study of macroeconomics is generally directed toward the activity transpiring within the confines of a particular nation. Macroeconomic theories seek to explain the interplay between the domestic household, business, and government sectors. They also point toward policies that can influence domestic economic activity, hopefully to the benefit of the domestic population.

The focus is usually on what can be controlled within the domestic economy. However, some influences on the domestic economy come from beyond the domestic boundaries. The foreign sector is the catch-all category for these external influences. The foreign sector, as such, provides a convenient method of categorizing these influences.

What It Does: Foreign Trade

The most important economic interplay between the domestic economy and the foreign sector is foreign trade. Foreign trade is simply the exchange of goods between countries. It works much like any exchange. The only difference is that the buyer resides in one country and the seller resides in another.

Foreign trade gives rise to two exchange flows--imports and exports.

  • Imports: Imports are goods produced by the foreign sector and purchased by the household, business, or government sectors in the domestic economy.

    Shady Valley offers examples of imports by the household sector. Pollyanna Pumpernickel often purchases bananas and coffee imported from South America, chocolate imported from Germany, and cheese imported from Switzerland from the local grocery store. Dan Dreiling, the drywall guy, recently purchased a new car imported from Japan.

    The Shady Valley business sector also purchases imported capital goods. The Wacky Willy Company uses sewing machines imported from Canada. Waldo's TexMex Taco World makes use of taco steamers imported from Mexico.

    The government sector is not above importing goods, too. The local state-supported university, the Ambling Institute of Technology, has several foreign citizens on its faculty. The Shady Valley city government buys paper parchment imported from China.

  • Exports: Exports are goods produced by the domestic economy and purchased by the foreign sector.

    Many Shady Valley businesses export their production to buyers in other nations. OmniMotors has a substantial South American market for its popular XL GT 9000 Sports Coupe. The Quadra DG Computer Works sells a great number of computers to willing buyers in Australia and New Zealand. Wacky Willy Stuffed Amigos are extremely popular throughout Asia.

    While the list of tangible goods exported to other countries is lengthy, exports include any good or service purchased by a foreign citizen. For example, the Shady Valley Amusement Park attracts a number of foreign tourists. When they pay park admission, an export occurs. The educational services purchased by foreign students enrolled at the Ambling Institute of Technology also fall under the heading of exports. Other services purchased by foreign individuals, including medical exams, dental check-ups, and legal advice, are also exports.

Exports and imports are often combined into a single concept--net exports. Net exports are simply exports minus imports. This single term provides a handy, short-cut way of noting the trade interaction with the foreign sector. If net exports are positive, then exports exceed imports. If net exports are negative, then imports exceed exports.

A Word or Two About the Other Three

The foreign sector is one of four macroeconomic sectors. The other three are the household sector, business sector, and government sector.
  • Household Sector: This sector includes the entire, wants-and-needs-satisfying, eating, breathing, consuming population of the economy. In a word, it includes everyone, all consumers, all people, and every member of society. Pollyanna Pumpernickel, a hardworking mother of two, is a representative member of the household sector. So too is Winston Smythe Kennsington III, an affluent corporate executive.

  • Business Sector: This sector contains the private, profit-seeking firms in the economy that combine scarce resources into the production of wants-and-needs satisfying goods and services. It includes proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. OmniConglomerate, Inc., a multi-billion dollar, multi-national, mega corporation, provides exemplifies a member of the business sector. However, Manny Mustard's House of Sandwich, a little sandwich shop, is also part of the business sector.

  • Government Sector: This sector includes all government entities that impose resource allocation decisions, that might not be made otherwise, on the rest of the economy. It consists of the three primary levels--federal, state, and local--responsible for passing and enforcing laws. Of course, all branches and agencies of the U.S. Federal Government--Congress, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, etc.--are part of the government sector. So too are the Shady Valley City Council and the local Shady Valley Board of Education included in the government sector.

Connecting to the Circular Flow

Adding Foreign TradeCircular Flow
The foreign sector is a component of the circular flow model of the economy. The circular flow captures the continuous movement of production, income, and factor payments between producers and consumers.

The four components of this simple model are: household sector, business sector, product markets, and resource markets. The household sector contains the consuming population of the economy. The business sector includes all of the producers.

The product markets direct production from the business sector to the household sector in exchange for payment flowing in the opposite direction. The resource markets direct factor services from the household sector to the business sector in exchange for payment flowing in the opposite direction.

The circular flow indicates that the income used by the household sector to purchase goods through the product markets is obtained by selling factor services through the resource markets. It also indicates that the revenue used by the business sector to pay for factor services obtained through the resource markets is generated by selling goods through the product markets.

The principal role played by the foreign sector in the circular flow is two-fold: (1) to add to the supply of output flowing into the product markets that can be purchased by the three domestic sectors (imports) and (2) to purchase part of the output supplied to the product markets by the domestic economy (exports). If exports exceed imports, then the overall flow increases. If imports exceed exports, then the overall flow decreases.


Recommended Citation:

FOREIGN SECTOR, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia,, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2024. [Accessed: June 22, 2024].

Check Out These Related Terms...

     | macroeconomic sectors | household sector | business sector | government sector | macroeconomic markets | product markets | resource markets | financial markets |

Or For A Little Background...

     | macroeconomics | net exports | exports | imports | macroeconomic goals |

And For Further Study...

     | circular flow | business cycles | macroeconomic problems | macroeconomic theories |

Related Websites (Will Open in New Window)...

     | World Trade Organization | U.S. International Trade Administration | NAFTA Secretariat |

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