In recent years, it has become increasingly evident that local water depletion and pollution are often closely tied to the structure of the global economy. It has been estimated that twenty per cent of the water consumption and pollution in the world relates to the production of export goods. International trade in commodities implies long - distance transfers of water in virtual form, where virtual water is understood as the volume of water that has been used to produce a commodity and that is thus virtually embedded in it. Knowledge about the virtual - water flows entering and leaving a country can cast a new light on the meaning of water scarcity for a country. For developing a wise national water policy, it is relevant to consider the linkages between consumed goods in a country and impacts on freshwater systems where the goods are produced.