What is the difference between International Trade and Foreign Trade?

The concepts are often confused, even in the most specialized media, but they signal very different realities

Speaking properly is always important, but the task is considerably difficult when the subject requires a certain degree of specialization, and especially in cases where one concept seems interchangeable with another; when reality shows that it is not like that, far from it. In economic jargon the two terms are often confused but are not interchangeable, and that should always be differentiated: International Trade and Foreign Trade. Today we are going to explain the difference.


According to the expert Guillermo Rivas Plata Garay; member of the European Union Talent Group, honorary president of ACOCEX, pedagogical coordinator of Foreign Trade courses, and member of the Technical Team of the Department of Foreign Trade of the University of Valladolid; international trade covers, in a general way, all the transactions between countries that maintain bilateral commercial agreements. The reason for the exchange does not imply any conflict in the denomination, only the agents involved, so that international trade integrates both products and services, material goods and intangible assets.

On the other hand, foreign trade involves commercial transactions between EU member states and third countries; in other words, between different customs. It is thus opposed to the so-called intra-community trade, which is nothing more than the exchange of goods between member states of the European Union.

 Using proper language, in the case of foreign trade, commercial transactions are divided into export and import; while in the exchange of goods between member states, these same operations are called expedition and introduction. Thus, it would be incorrect to speak of “exports between Spain and France,” for example; an elementary base that should be taken into account before talking about any other international marketing action.

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