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The meaning and origin of the expression: The Balance of trade

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The balance of trade

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'The Balance of trade'?

The difference between the value of the imports and exports that a nation makes.

What's the origin of the phrase 'The Balance of trade'?

Sir Josiah ChildThis expression is of uncertain origin and dates back to at least the 17th century. From Sir Josiah Child's A New Discourse on Trade, published 1668:

"The Ballance of Trade is to be taken by a strict scrutiny of what proportion the value of the Commodities exported out of this Kingdom bear, to those imported."

Given that this is a definition of the term and is the earliest known reference, it is quite likely that Child coined it himself.