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Source: Chart prepared by Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Data from Dept. of Commerce, Office of Business Economics.


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Section 31

Foreign Commerce and Aid

This section presents measures of the flow of goods, precious metals, services, and funds between the United States and other countries. These measures appear in summary in the balance of payments and in detail as dollar values of imports and exports of merchandise or commodities classified by countries of their origin or destination. Related aspects also shown are international investments, foreign assistance programs, and import duties.

The Office of Business Economics compiles and publishes current figures on the U.S. balance of payments and international investment position in its monthly Survey of Current Business, and on total foreign aid by the Federal Government in its periodic Foreign Grants and Credits by the United States Government. Figures for earlier periods are presented in Balance of Payments-Statistical Supplement, 1963 revised edition. Statistics for the foreign aid programs are presented by the Agency for International Development in its quarterly Operations Report and annual report, U.S. Economic Programs Administered by the Agency for International Development and Predecessor Agencies, and by the Department of Agriculture in its Foreign Agricultural Trade of the United States.

The principal sources of import and export data are publications of the Bureau of the Census. Current data (through 1966) are presented monthly in Report FT 125, United States Imports of Merchandise for Consumption, and in Report FT 410, United States Exports, Commodity by Country. Historical data appear in Foreign Commerce and Navigation of the United States, issued annually through 1946 and resumed, on an annual basis in 1965, with a volume covering the years 1946 to 1963. For a complete list of the Bureau's monthly, quarterly, and annual reports in this field, consult the Bureau of the Census Catalog. In addition, the Bureau of International Commerce and the Office of Business Economics present summary and selected commodity and country data for U.S. foreign trade in the Overseas Business Reports and the Survey of Current Business, respectively. The Treasury Department's Annual Report of the Secretary contains information on import duties.

International accounts and foreign aid. The balance of payments table shows for given time periods the transfer of goods, services, grants, and financial assets and liabilities between the United States and the rest of the world or between the United States and a specific country or area.

The international investment position table presents for specific dates the value of U.S. investments abroad and of foreign investments in the United States. The movement of foreign and U.S. capital as presented in the balance of payments is not the only factor affecting the total value of foreign investments. Among the other factors are: Changes in the valuation of assets or liabilities, including securities; defaults; expropriations; write-offs; and reinvested earnings of subsidiaries operating abroad and of foreign subsidiaries operating in the United States.

Foreign assistance is divided into three major categories-grants (military supplies and services, and other grants), credits, and other assistance (through net accumulation of foreign currency claims from the sale of agricultural commodities). The U.S. Government's capital investments in the international financial institutions constitute an additional measure taken by the Government to promote foreign economic recovery, development, and financial stability.

Grants are transfers for which no payment is expected (other than a limited percentage of the foreign currency "counterpart" funds generated by the grant), or which at most involve an obligation on the part of the receiver to extend aid to the United States or other countries to achieve a common objective. Credits are loan

disbursements or transfers under other agreements which give rise to specific obligations to repay, over a period of years, usually with interest. In some instances assistance has been given with the understanding that a decision as to repayment will be made at a later date; such assistance is included in grants. At such time as an agreement is reached for repayment over a period of years, a credit is established. Such credits cannot, as a rule, be deducted from specific grants recorded in previous periods; an adjustment for grants converted into credits is made at the time of agreement. All known returns to the U.S. Government stemming from grants and credits (reverse grants, returns of grants, and payments of principal) are taken into account in net grants and net credits, but no allowance is made for interest or commissions. Other assistance represents the transfer of U.S. farm products in exchange for foreign currencies, (plus, since enactment of Public Law 87-128, currency claims from principal and interest collected on credits extended under the farm products program), less the Government's disbursements of the currencies as grants, credits, or for purchases. The net acquisition of currencies represents net transfers of resources to foreign countries under the agricultural programs, in addition to those classified as grants or credits. Figures as published in Foreign Grants and Credits by the United States Government are not identical with figures shown for Government unilateral transfers and capital in the balance of payments, mainly because of differences in treatment of particular items by the two sets of accounts. Such items include: Contributions to the multilateral construction program of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; Government investments in certain productive enterprises abroad; Government receipts on funded claims; and net changes in foreign currency holdings resulting from transactions other than those under the farm products program, such as by collection of principal and interest and by purchase for dollars.

The basic instrument for extending military aid to friendly nations has been the Mutual Defense Assistance Program authorized by the Congress in 1949. Prior to 1952, economic and technical aid was authorized by the Congress in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1948, the 1950 Act for International Development, and other legislation which set up programs for specific countries (e.g., Korea, Nationalist Government of China, etc.). In 1952, these economic, technical, and military aid programs were combined under the Mutual Security Act, which in turn was followed by the Foreign Assistance Act passed in 1961. Figures on activity under the Foreign Assistance Act as reported in Foreign Grants and Credits differ from similar data published by the Agency for International Development or its immediate predecessors, the International Cooperation Administration and the Development Loan Fund (now combined in the AID), due largely to differences in method of reporting, timing, and treatment of particular items.

Foreign trade.-Export data are compiled by the Bureau of the Census from Shippers' Export Declarations which exporters are required to file with customs officials for shipments leaving the United States. Export data include shipments made after World War II under the Department of the Army Civilian Supply Program only for 1948 and subsequent years. In addition, export data include United States exports under the Lend-Lease, United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, International Cooperation Administration, Mutual Defense Assistance, and other mutual security programs. Shipments to United States Armed Forces for their own use are not included in export statistics for any period.

Export values are based on the selling price (or on the cost, if not sold) of the commodity shipped and include inland freight, insurance, and other charges to place of export. Transportation and other costs beyond the United States port of exportation are excluded. The country of destination is defined as the country of ultimate destination or country where the merchandise is to be consumed, further processed, or manufactured. In the event the exporter does not have definite information as to the country of ultimate destination for a shipment, it is credited (for statistical purposes) to the country to which it is consigned.

Certain export commodity classifications were grouped for security reasons into special categories beginning with May 1949, with periodic amendments to include additional commodities or to remove commodities from the special category list as the result of the relaxation of security restrictions for individual commodities. With the adoption of new security regulations, effective July 1950, the publication of the country of destination and customs district detail for the special category commodities and groups was discontinued. Data for special category commodities are included, however, in all total export statistics.

Shipments individually valued at less than $100 are not classified by commodity, but are included in exports with "other transactions." From July 1953, through December 1959, a 10-percent sample was the basis for data on export shipments individually valued from $100 to $499 (about 4 to 6 percent of total exports) except that, for January through June 1956, the 10 percent applied to shipments valued up to $999. Beginning January 1960, the sample ratio was increased to 50 percent for all countries except Canada. Effective January 1963, the 10-percent sample for Canada was applied to shipments individually valued from $100 to $1,999. In most cases, the sampling error in individual export totals is probably less than 5 percent.

Import data are compiled by the Bureau of the Census from import entries (various customs forms) which importers are required to file with customs officials for each shipment arriving. Import values are, in general, based on market or selling price excluding import duties and are f.o.b. the exporting country. The country of origin is defined as the country in which the merchandise was grown, mined, or manufactured. If the importer cannot obtain information as to the country of origin, the merchandise is credited (for statistical purposes) to the country of shipment.

Imports are classified either as general imports or imports for consumption. General imports represent total arrivals of imported goods (except for in-transit shipments), that is, merchandise entered for immediate consumption ("duty free" merchandise, merchandise on which duty is paid on arrival, and merchandise entered into bonded customs manufacturing warehouses for processing and subsequent export of the main product) plus merchandise entered into bonded customs storage warehouses and into bonded customs smelting and refining warehouses. Imports for consumption are the total of entries for immediate consumption plus merchandise withdrawn from bonded storage warehouses for consumption, withdrawn from bonded smelting and refining warehouses, and transferred from bonded storage warehouses to bonded manufacturing warehouses for manufacturing and export.

Beginning 1954, estimates of imports valued at $250 or less are based on a 5-percent sample; and beginning 1958, estimates of imports valued under $100 reported on formal consumption entries and imports reported on informal entries (limited to $250) are based on a 1-percent sample. Beginning July 1965, formal entry shipments valued at $250 and under are also estimated from a 1-percent sample. These estimated lowvalue shipments are included in commodity and country exports with "other transactions." The total value of the estimated low-value shipments generally amounts to less than 2 percent of the monthly import total.

A description of the procedures used for compiling the foreign trade statistics appears in Report FT 125, United States Imports of Merchandise for Consumption, and Report FT 410, United States Exports, Commodity by Country.

Data relating to United States airborne and waterborne foreign commerce are presented in section 22, Transportation-Air and Water.

Area coverage. The geographic area covered by these statistics, except as noted, is the United States customs area, which includes Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, and for 1935 through 1939, the Virgin Islands.

Historical statistics.-Tabular headnotes provide cross-references, where applicable, to Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1957. See preface.

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? Includes convertible currencies and International Monetary Fund position.

Source: Dept. of Commerce, Office of Business Economics; Survey of Current Business, June 1966 and March 1967.

No. 1209.


[In millions of dollars. Excludes military transfers under grants]

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1 Measured by changes in U.S. monetary reserve assets and in U.S. liquid liabilities to all foreigners. See table 1215.

2 Measured by changes in U.S. monetary reserve assets, in U.S. liquid liabilities to foreign official agencies. and in certain U.S. nonliquid liabilities to foreign official agencies.

Source: Dept. of Commerce, Office of Business Economics; Balance of Payments-Statistical Supplement, 1963; and Survey of Current Business, June 1966 and March 1967.

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