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I want to understand how non-US governments earn dollars. I tried googling for it but there seems to be no information on the internet. Your help is much appreciated.

I am looking for methods that don't create additional debt to the government.

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Like all entities except the US government: they trade for it on the currency exchange market.

There are special cases when the US government gives aid without asking anything in return.

A government could also get a dollar loan, but would eventually have to repay it with dollars, so this merely delays the problem.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for directness, although I think an answer should focus on if (1) non-US governments instead of banks can gather USD and (2) how central banks influence exchange rates in the foreign exchange market. $\endgroup$
    – user28226
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 12:38
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    $\begingroup$ @S.IasonKoutsoulis The answer is focused on governments, not banks. (2) seems to be the answer of another question. $\endgroup$
    – Giskard
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 12:56
  • $\begingroup$ My mistake, I meant the exact opposite, that the answer should inform about who actually engages in these transactions and under whose authority, if under anyone's. $\endgroup$
    – user28226
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ @S.IasonKoutsoulis Please feel free to post an alternate answer :) $\endgroup$
    – Giskard
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 13:00
  • $\begingroup$ But consider an impoverished government whose currency isn't powerful enough. Are you saying the only way for this government to raise dollars is to further depreciate its currency by trying to buy on the international market? What if nobody wants to trade their currency? $\endgroup$
    – Junk
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 13:07
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So I am giving an answer to my own question because so far I have received only limited responses. I see the following methods as possible, I would like people to add other methods as well.

  1. Owning US treasuries or other dollar denominated bonds.
  2. Investing in companies via a sovereign fund.
  3. @Giskard and @user253751 list government owned enterprises selling goods.
  4. Excise/custom duties on exports/imports by commercial enterprises.
  5. Selling domestic currency to purchase USD, which runs the risk of currency depreciation.

I should edit the question to say I want methods that don't add further debt to the government.

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    $\begingroup$ to clarify #3, the government doesn't have to sell goods, it can incentivize businesses to sell goods overseas to create a currency exchange market. I meant that someone would sell goods, not specifically the government. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ How does your 1. buying Treasuries raise USD? You need USD to buy them. $\endgroup$
    – dm63
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 1:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Junk Unless they are referring to interest earnings, this should be amended to 'selling US-denominated securities' with the assumption that the sovereign already owns such assets, which would rather technically be one way for a sovereign to get US dollars. $\endgroup$
    – Cola
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 20:47
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  1. if you are from country other than US, and you imported goods, you should pay the money in dollars (there will be other currencies which they accept) to the exporter, you can't pay them in your own currency.

  2. Through Foreign Direct Investment.

  3. Through NRI (Non Resident India) bonds, if you are from India, similar bonds will be there for other countries.

  4. Currency manipulation (making their domestic currency weak by buying dollars) by export based countries (Ex-China), it's intention is not to acquire dollars but during this process they indirectly get dollars.

  5. Currency Swap, nowadays many countries are doing.

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The principal method for governments to raise dollars is for their domestic businesses to produce something that can be sold for dollars in the marketplace. Oil is one obvious example , but it could be general goods. Eg China exports a variety of goods to the US, resulting in the accumulation by their central bank of about 1 trillion US dollars at the last count. Purely financial methods such as printing your own currency and purchasing dollars are not achieving much as they commonly result in depreciation of your own currency and domestic inflation.

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