The balance of trade is the account that details the value of exported goods and the value of imported goods. To calculate the balance of trade, the national accounts service evaluates imports and exports of goods based on customs statistics on goods. Corrections are made to these: firstly, exchanges relating to recovery are deducted from customs flows; secondly, exchanges of military material and the refuelling of ships and aircraft are added. If the value of exports exceeds the value of imports, it is said that there is a trade surplus; if imports are greater than exports, the country has a trade deficit.
In France the balance of trade covers only goods. Services are included in the goods and services balance, unlike in other countries where the balance of trade covers both goods and services.