Countertrade means exchanging goods or services which are paid for, in whole or part, with other goods or services, rather than with money. A monetary valuation can, however, be used in counter trade for accounting purposes. Any transaction involving exchange of goods or service for something of equal value.
There are five main variants of countertrade:
- Barter: Exchange of goods or services directly for other goods or services without the use of money as means of purchase or payment.
- Switch trading: Practice in which one company sells to another its obligation to make a purchase in a given country.
- Counter purchase: Sale of goods and services to one company in aother country by a company that promises to make a future purchase of a specific product from the same company in that country.
- Buyback: This occurs when a firm builds a plant in a country, or supplies technology, equipment, training, or other services to the country, and agrees to take a certain percentage of the plant's output as partial payment for the contract.
- Offset: Agreement that a company will offset a hard currency purchase of an unspecified product from that nation in the future. Agreement by one nation to buy a product from another, subject to the purchase of some or all of the components and raw materials from the buyer of the finished product, or the assembly of such product in the buyer nation. (Figure 1)
Countertrade also occurs when countries lack sufficient hard currency or when other types of market trade are impossible. In 2000, India and Iraq agreed on an "oil for wheat and rice" barter deal, subject to UN approval under Article 50 of the UN Persian Gulf War sanctions, that would facilitate 300,000 barrels of oil delivered daily to India at a price of $6.85 a barrel, while Iraq oil sales into Asia were valued at about $22 a barrel. In 2001, India agreed to swap 1.5 million tonnes of Iraqi crude under the oil-for-food program.