Balance of payments statistics - quarterly data


Data extracted in April 2018. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned update of the article: July 2018.

Fourth quarter of 2017:
EU-28 current account surplus at EUR 92.4 billion
EUR 52.6 billion surplus for trade in services

This article presents quarterly statistics on balance of payments in the EU-28, the euro area and the Member States. Balance of payments, which is a summary of the transactions of a given economy with the rest of the world, comprises the current account, which covers international transactions in goods, services, income, and current transfers, the financial account, which deals with transactions involving financial claims on, or liabilities to, the rest of the world, including international purchases of securities, such as stocks and bonds as well as the capital account, which covers international capital transfers.

Figure 1: Balances of current account, EU-28, main items as share of GDP (%)
Source: Eurostat (bop_eu6_q)
Table 1: Main items of the current and capital account, EU-28 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat
Table 2: Trade in services with the rest of the world, EU-28 (EUR 1 000 million, 2017Q4)
Source: Eurostat
Table 3: Primary income with the rest of the world, EU-28 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat
Table 4: Balances with major economic partners, EU-28 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat
Table 5: Financial account transactions with the rest of the world, EU-28 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat

Main statistical findings

Current account

The EU-28 non-seasonally adjusted external current account recorded a surplus of EUR 92.4 billion (2.3 % of GDP) in the fourth quarter of 2017, slightly up from a surplus of EUR 89.6 bn (also 2.3 % of GDP) in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the estimates released by Eurostat.

In the fourth quarter of 2017 compared with the fourth quarter of 2016, based on non-seasonally adjusted data, the surplus of the services account increased (EUR +52.6 bn compared with EUR +30.6 bn). The surpluses of the goods account (EUR +52.6 bn compared with EUR +54.4 bn) and the primary income account (EUR +11.9 bn compared with EUR +26.9 bn) both dropped. The deficit of the secondary income account grew (EUR -24.7 bn compared with EUR -22.3 bn). In the capital account EU-28 recorded a deficit of EUR -4.9 bn, down from a deficit of EUR -6.4 bn in the fourth quarter of 2016. For goods and primary there were growths in values for both credits and debits, while for services in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared with the fourth quarter of 2016, there was an increase in the value of credit transactions (the highest value recorded for the EU-28 at EUR 233.1 bn), while there was a decrease in value of debit transactions.

The surplus recorded in the services account (EUR +52.6 bn euro) was mainly the result of surpluses in telecommunications, computer & information services (EUR +21.1 bn), financial services (EUR +11.6 bn), other business services, which includes research and development, professional, management consulting, technical, trade-related and other business services (EUR +8.4 bn), transport (EUR +7.7 bn), travel (EUR + 5.9 bn), insurance services (EUR +3.6 bn), manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others (EUR +2.3 bn) and construction services (EUR +1.7 bn) partly offset by a deficit in charges for the use of intellectual property (EUR -10.4 bn). Substantial increases in values of credits took place especially for travel, telecommunications, computer & information services and other business services. The United Kingdom (mainly with financial services and other business services), France, Spain (both mainly with travel and other business services), Germany (mainly with charges for the use of the intellectual property and telecommunications, computer & information services) and Sweden (mainly with telecommunications, computer & information services) contributed in the biggest part to the surplus.

The primary income surplus (EUR +11.9 bn) was the result of the surpluses in direct investment income (EUR +29.0 bn) as well as in compensation of employees (EUR +4.4 bn), partially offset by a deficit in portfolio investment income (EUR -22.6 bn).

Geographical breakdown of current account transactions

In the fourth quarter of 2017, the EU-28 external current account recorded a surplus with the United States (EUR +52.5 bn), Switzerland (EUR +14.8 bn), Offshore financial centres[1] (EUR +13.6 bn), Brazil (EUR +7.9 bn), Canada (EUR +7.3 bn), Hong Kong (EUR +6.1 bn) and India (EUR +0.9 bn) and a deficit with China (EUR -27.4 bn), Russia (EUR -6.5 bn) and Japan (EUR -0.9 bn).

The EU-28 recorded highest surpluses in goods account with the United States (EUR +43.4 bn), offshore financial centres (EUR +17.2 bn) and Switzerland (EUR +6.3 bn), and significant deficits with China (-33.5 bn) and Russia (-11.3 bn). In services account the biggest surpluses took place with Switzerland (EUR +15.3 bn), the United States (EUR +6.2 bn) and China (+4.5 bn) and deficit with offshore financial centres (EUR -11.2 bn). The most substantial surpluses in primary income account occurred with offshore financial centres (EUR +8.2 bn) and Brazil (EUR +5.3 bn), while the high deficits with Switzerland (EUR -6.7 bn) and Japan (EUR -5.6 bn). In secondary income account deficits were recorded with all above analysed counterparts, except for Japan.

Financial account

In the fourth quarter of 2017 net acquisition of financial assets by the EU-28 residents were higher than net incurrence of liabilities by EUR 119.5 bn. The EU-28 was the net recipient of direct investment from rest of the world with the net inflow of EUR 3.5 bn. Direct investment assets held abroad by the EU-28 investors grew by EUR 73.5 bn, while direct investment liabilities of the EU-28 to the rest of the world increased by EUR 77.0 bn. Direct investment assets grew for equity and investment fund shares (EUR +77.0) and fell for reinvestment of earnings (EUR -1.6 bn) and debt instruments (EUR -2.0 bn, while direct investment liabilities increased for equity and investment fund shares (EUR +7.5 bn), reinvestment of earnings (EUR +29.4 bn) and debt instruments (EUR +40.1 bn).

Portfolio investment recorded a net outflow of EUR 21.7 bn. EU-28 investors invested EUR 73.3 bn in portfolio investment assets abroad, while portfolio investment liabilities of the EU-28 to the rest of the world increased by EUR 51.6 bn. Other investment recorded a net outflow of EUR 98.6 bn. EU-28 investors invested EUR 53.1 bn, while other investment liabilities of the EU-28 to the rest of the world decreased by EUR 45.6 bn.

Figure 2: Current account as share of GDP (%)
Source: Eurostat (bop_c6_q) - See country codes

Current account of Member States (including intra-EU flows)

As concerns the total (intra-EU plus extra-EU) current account balances of the EU-28 Member States, based on non-seasonally adjusted data, seventeen recorded surpluses, nine deficits and two balances in the fourth quarter of 2017. The highest surpluses were observed in Germany (EUR +75.4 bn), the Netherlands (EUR +20.9 bn), Italy (EUR +15.6 bn), Ireland (EUR +14.9 bn) and Spain (EUR +9.3 bn), while the largest deficits were observed in the United Kingdom (EUR -17.1 bn), Greece (EUR -2.8 bn) and Romania (EUR -1.4 bn). In relation to GDP (size of the economy) the highest surpluses could be observed for Ireland (19.0%), Malta (11.8%), the Netherlands (10.9%) and Germany (9.1%) and the biggest deficits for Cyprus (-22.4%) and Greece (-6.2%).

Trade in goods was the main account behind surpluses of Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands, as well as behind deficits of Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and the United Kingdom. Services account decided about the surpluses of Spain, Luxembourg, Malta, Austria, Poland and Portugal but the absolute highest surplus in services was recorded by the United Kingdom. For France surpluses were distributed between services and primary income, while for Sweden among goods, services and primary income. In secondary income account Romania, Croatia, Portugal, Bulgaria and Poland recorded highest surpluses, while Germany, France and the United Kingdom had the highest deficits.

International investment position of Member States

In the fourth quarter of 2017, external liabilities - representing the negative net international investment position - were higher than assets, in nineteen EU Member States while external assets exceeded liabilities in nine Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland and Sweden). Germany recorded the highest value of net IIP of EUR 1 929.0 bn, due to direct and other investment positions, being followed by the Netherlands (EUR 510.6 bn) and Belgium (EUR 243.9 bn), both mainly due to direct investment. Spain had the highest net international indebtedness among the EU Member States, at EUR 940.4 bn, due to its position in portfolio and other investments. Ireland, Greece, Cyprus and Portugal recorded also very high indebtedness levels, which were above 100% of GDP, mainly due to other investment and, in the case of Ireland to portfolio investment.

The detailed tables Microsoft Excel 2010 Logo.png are available here.

Data sources and availability

The methodological framework followed in the compilation of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position is that defined in the sixth edition of the International Monetary Fund Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6), published in 2009.

In the compilation of BOP, responsibility is shared between Eurostat and the ECB. Eurostat focuses on monthly BOP and quarterly and annual BOP, IIP, ITSS and FDI aggregates of the EU, as well as on detailed ITSS data also for the euro area, whereas the European Central Bank (ECB) is in charge of compiling and disseminating the euro area monthly and quarterly balance of payments, as well as quarterly international investment position statistics.

Monthly BoP data are available starting from January 1999. Quarterly BoP items are available from first quarter 1982, while quarterly IIP from fourth quarter 1993. Data are available for European Union, EU Member States, Euro Area, EFTA and candidate countries. Data are compiled and disseminated for transactions and positions of total economy vis-a-vis rest of the world and major economic counterparts (Switzerland, Russia, the USA, Canada, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan and Offshore financial centres[2]. Additionally, for financial account transactions and positions, as well as related income, data are available with sector breakdown.

Context

In line with the agreed allocation of responsibility, the European Central Bank (ECB) is in charge of compiling and disseminating monthly and quarterly balance of payments statistics for the euro area, whereas the European Commission (Eurostat) focuses on quarterly and annual aggregates of the EU. The aggregates for the euro area and the EU are compiled consistently on the basis of Member States' transactions with residents of countries outside the euro area and the European Union respectively.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Database

Balance of payments - international transactions (BPM6) (bop_6)

Methodology / Metadata

Other information

  • Regulation (EC) No 184/2005 of 12 January 2005 on Community statistics concerning balance of payments, international trade in services and foreign direct investment.
  • Regulation (EU) No 555/2012 of 22 June 2012 amending Regulation (EC) No 184/2005 on Community statistics concerning balance of payments, international trade in services and foreign direct investment, as regards the update of data requirements and definitions.
  • Regulation (EU) No 2016/1013 of 8 June 2016 amending Regulation (EC) No 184/2005 on Community statistics concerning balance of payments, international trade in services and foreign direct investment.

External links

Notes

  1. Offshore Financial Centres (OFC) is an aggregate which includes 40 countries. As examples, the aggregate contains European financial centres, such as Liechtenstein, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man, Andorra, and Gibraltar; Central American OFC such as Panama and Caribbean islands like Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands; and Asian OFC such as Bahrain, Hong Kong, Singapore and Philippines.
  2. See footnote 1.