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Commerce refers generally to the activity of exchanging products, goods, and services for financial gain. The word commerce usually is used to mean economic activity broadly on a national or other large scale. Commerce can be used in many contexts but is most commonly used by governments in their constitutions and laws to define the authority of the government to regulate commerce activity. The commerce clause in the Constitution of the United States gives the federal government the ability to govern many aspects of commerce in the country, and the commerce clause is the foundation for a large portion of legislative activity by Congress in recent history. For more information on the commerce clause including its coverage and limitations, click here.

One federal statute defines commerce as: “the exchanging, buying, or selling of things having economic value between two or more entities, for example goods, services, and money.  Commerce is often done on a large scale, typically between individuals, businesses, or nations.” 

See: 15 U.S.C. §1127

[Last updated in February of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]