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Trade in its simplest form is the exchange of goods and services between peoples.

Trade is a vital characteristic that separates the human species from the animal world. Human beings are dependent on each other for their survival. Very few, if any, human beings fulfill their requirements for food, housing, clothing and other necessities without trading with other human beings.[1] The father of classical economics, Adam Smith said, "No one ever saw two dogs exchange one bone for another."

Economists would extend the definition to include the aggregate amount of trade between nations via imports and exports, which may result in an imbalance, with one nation having a trade surplus and another having a trade deficit. Nations with large trade deficits are known as debtor nations.


  1. Even the act of paying taxes by survivalists who live "off the power grid", be it land or income taxes, is an act of trade between the landowner or homeowner and the government, an exchange of money for defense, police protection, maintenance of roads, etc.

See also