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Net exports are the difference between a country’s exports and imports.

It’s calculated by subtracting a country’s total exports value from its total imports value.

Suppose the United States exports $200 billion worth of goods and imports $150 billion worth of goods in the same year. Its net exports for the year will be $50 billion.

A country’s net exports take a negative value, or a trade deficit, when it imports more goods than it exports. A positive value, or trade surplus, results when a country imports fewer goods than it exports.

Net exports are used to calculate a country’s aggregate expenditures, or gross domestic product, which is the value of all goods and services an economy produces over a given period. Net exports can also gauge the interaction between a country’s economy and its foreign trade partners.

A country might impose taxes or surcharges to counteract a negative net export value. Other factors that affect net exports include prosperity abroad and exchange rates.

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