This paper investigates the major sources of changes in the trade balance of four Central European and three Baltic transition economies with an emphasis on the difference between permanent and transitory disturbances to income. In all seven countries the findings support the hypothesis that transitory disturbances to income are the main determinants of changes in the trade balance. These results seem to be fairly consistent with inter-temporal models of trade balance, which view transitory shocks to income as the main source of variations in the trade balance. These results do not seem to support the view that productivity shocks alone generate most of the variation in the trade balance.