Current account balance and balance of payments (tipsbp)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union


Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)



For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT

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1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unit

Eurostat, C1, National accounts methodology. Indicators

1.5. Contact mail address

Office address:
Joseph Bech building
5, Rue Alphonse Weicker
2721 Luxembourg

Functional mail box: ESTAT-MIP@ec.europa.eu


2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 28/10/2020
2.2. Metadata last posted 28/10/2020
2.3. Metadata last update 28/10/2020


3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

The Balance of Payments (BoP) systematically summarizes all economic transactions between the residents and the non-residents of a country or of an economic area during a given period. The BoP provides harmonised information on international transactions which are part of the current, capital and financial accounts.

The Current account provides information about the transactions of a country with the rest of the world. It covers all transactions (other than those in financial items) in goods, services, primary income and secondary income, which occur between resident and non-resident units.

The MIP scoreboard indicator is 3 year average of Current account balance as % of GDP. In addition annual and quarterly data on the BoP sub-balances and its components are published under the MIP domain. 

3.2. Classification system

The methodological framework followed in the compilation of the Balance of Payments is defined in the IMF’s Balance of Payments and International Investment Positions Manual, Sixth Edition (BPM6) and the European system of national and regional accounts for the denominator (ESA 2010), as defined in Regulation (EU) No 549/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013.

Balance of Payments Manual fifth edition (BPM5) was the reference for the data published by Eurostat until 2014.

Additional methodological references used are the United Nations' Manual on Statistics of International Trade in Services (2010) and the OECD Benchmark Definition of Foreign Direct Investment (BD4).

3.3. Coverage - sector

Not applicable

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The MIP scoreboard indicator is the three-year backward moving average of the current account balance expressed in percent of GDP and calculated as: [[(CA/GDP)t + (CA/GDP)t-1 + (CA/GDP)t-2] / 3]*100. The indicative thresholds for the indicator are of +6% and -4%. The indicator is based on the Balance of Payments (BoP) data reported to Eurostat by the EU Member States.

The BoP is a statistical statement that systematically summarises, over a given period of time, all the transactions of an economy with the rest of the world. The balance of payments records all economic transactions undertaken between the residents and non-residents of a country during a given period. A transaction is defined as an economic flow that reflects the creation, transformation, exchange, transfer, or extinction of economic value and involves changes in ownership of goods and/or financial assets, the provision of services, or the provision of labour and capital.
The concept of resident in the BPM6 is identical to the one used in the 2008 System of National Accounts (SNA) and 2010 European System of National and Regional Accounts (ESA 2010). The residence of each institutional unit is the economic territory with which it has the strongest connection, expressed as its center of predominant economic interest. Each institutional unit is a resident of one and only one economic territory determined by its center of predominant economic interest.
Financial flows are marked as a credit (or exports, i.e. if a country has received money), a debit (or imports, when a country has paid or given money) or a net balance (credits minus debits).
The current account together with the capital and the financial accounts form the balance of payments.

The balance of payments is broken down into three broad sub-balances: the 'Current account' (I.), the 'Capital account' (II.) and the 'Financial account' (III.).

I. Current account shows the flows of goods, services, primary income and secondary income between resident and non-resident units:

1. Goods
BoP item 'Goods' covers physical, produced items over which ownership rights can be established and whose economic ownership can be passed from one institutional unit to another by engaging in transactions. The change of ownership occurs between residents and non-residents. It includes general merchandise, net exports of goods under merchanting, non-monetary gold. An export is marked as a credit (money coming in) and an import is noted as a debit (money going out).

2. Services
'Services' are the second major category of the current account. In the production of data on International Trade in Services the references are the IMF’s BPM6 and the United Nations’ Manual on Statistics of International Trade in Services 2010. 
Services are the result of a production activity that changes the conditions of the consuming units, or facilitates the exchange of products or financial assets. Services are not generally separate items over which ownership rights can be established and cannot generally be separated from their production.
The main breakdown of services includes: manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others; Maintenance and repair services; Transport; Travel; Construction; Insurance and pension services; Financial services; Charges for the use of intellectual property; Telecommunications, computer and information services; Other business services; Personal, cultural and recreational services and Government goods and services.
When combined, goods and services together make up a country's balance of trade. The balance of trade is typically the biggest bulk of a country's balance of payments as it makes up total imports and exports. If a country has a balance of trade deficit, it imports more than it exports, and if it has a balance of trade surplus, it exports more than it imports.

3. Primary income
Primary income represents the return that accrues to institutional units for their contribution to the production process, or for the provision of financial assets and renting natural resources to other institutional units. It comprises Compensation of employees (D1), Investment income and Other primary income.

4. Secondary income
The secondary income account shows current transfers between residents and non-residents. A transfer is an entry that corresponds to the provision of a good, service, financial asset, or other non-produced asset by an institutional unit to another institutional unit where there is no corresponding return of an item of economic value. Current transfers consist of all transfers that are not capital transfers. Due to their nature, they are not considered real resources that affect economic production.
Current transfers are classified according to the institutional sector making or receiving the transfer in the compiling economy:

- General government current transfers comprise Current taxes on income, wealth etc, Social contributions, Social benefits, Current international cooperation, Miscellaneous current transfers of general government;

- Financial corporations, non-financial corporations, households, and NPISHs - Current taxes on income, wealth etc, Social contributions, Social benefits, Miscellaneous current transfers, Net non-life insurance premiums, Non-life insurance claims, Current international cooperation and Adjustments for the changes in pension entitlements. Miscellaneous current transfers include Personal transfer between resident and non-resident households (of which: Workers’ remittances).

II. Capital account covers all transactions that involve (a) the receipt or payment of capital transfers (debt forgiveness, nonlife insurance claims, investment grants, one-off guarantees and other debt assumption, capital taxes and other capital transfers) and (b) the acquisition/disposal of non-produced, non-financial assets, which includes transactions associated with tangible assets (e.g., land and subsoil assets) and transactions associated with intangible assets (e.g., patents, copyrights, trademarks, franchises, etc.).

III. Financial account covers all transactions associated with changes of ownership in the foreign financial assets and liabilities of an economy. The financial account is broken down into five basic functional categories: Direct investment (divided by instrument into equity and investment fund shares, reinvestment of earnings and debt instruments), Portfolio investment (divided by instrument into equity and investment fund shares, reinvestment of earnings for investment fund shares and debt securities), Financial derivatives and employee stock options, Other investment (divided by instrument into other equity, currency and deposits, loans, insurance, pension schems and other standardised guarantee schemes, trade credits and advances, other accounts receivable/payable and special drawing rights) and Official reserve assets (divided by instrument into monetary gold, special drawing rights, reserve position in the International Monetary Fund and other reserve assets).

3.5. Statistical unit

Resident institutional units are defined in conformity with the relevant manual (BPM6) and relate to any individual, corporation or other institution that has a predominant centre of economic interest in the country/territory during a given period.

3.6. Statistical population

BoP statistical population includes all the economic transactions between residents and non-residents. The coverage of the statistical population assured by the reported transactions can be very different for different current account items.

3.7. Reference area

The MIP scoreboard presents national data for each EU Member State.

3.8. Coverage - Time

The data published under the MIP domain are quarterly and annual time series. The quarterly data are annualized as sum of four quarters of each year. The lengths of the series vary according to country, for details on time coverage see the information notes:

tipsbp10 Current account balance - 3 year average; 

tipsbp20 Current account balance - annual data;

tipsbp70 Net Lending/Borrowing (current and capital account) - annual data;  

tipsbp90 Direct investment in the reporting economy (flows) - annual data, % of GDP; 

tipsbp100 Direct investment in the reporting economy (stocks) - annual data, % of GDP.

 

tipsbp11 Current account, main components, net balance - annual data, % of GDP; tipsbp12 Current account, main component, credit - annual data, % of GDP; tipsbp13 Current account, main components, debit - annual data, % of GDP; tipsbp14 Current account, main components, net balance - annual data, million units of national currency; tipsbp15 Current account, main components, credit - annual data, million units of national currency; tipsbp16 Current account, main components, debit - annual data, million units of national currency; tipsbp17 Capital account - annual data; tipsbp18 Financial account - annual data; tipsbp19 Financial account by components, net balance - annual data, million units of national currency; tipsbp21 Direct investment in the reporting economy, main components - annual data, million units of national currency; tipsbp22 Direct investment abroad, main components - annual data, million units of national currency;  tipsbp40 Current account balance - quarterly data; tipsbp41 Current account, main components, net balance - quarterly data, % of GDP; tipsbp42 Current account, main components, credit - quarterly data, % of GDP; tipsbp43 Current account, main components, debit - quarterly data, % of GDP; tipsbp44 Current account, main components, net balance - quarterly data, million units of national currency; tipsbp45 Current account, main components, credit - quarterly data, million units of national currency; tipsbp46 Current account, main components, debit - quarterly data, million units of national currency; tipsbp47 Capital account - quarterly data; tipsbp48 Financial account - quarterly data; tipsbp49 Financial account, main components - quarterly data, million units of national currency; tipsbp50 Net Lending/Borrowing (current and capital account) - quarterly data; tipsbp51 Direct investment in the reporting economy - quarterly data, % of GDP; tipsbp52 Direct investment in the reporting economy, main components - quarterly data, million units of national currency; tipsbp53 Direct investment abroad - quarterly data, % of GDP; tipsbp54 Direct investment abroad, main components - quarterly data, million units of national currency. 

3.9. Base period

Not applicable


4. Unit of measure Top

Data are in % of GDP, in million units of national currency and 3-year average (for the MIP headline indicator).


5. Reference Period Top

The reference period is the calendar year.


6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

Starting from 2014 the definitions and data published in the MIP scoreboard are based on the IMF’s Balance of Payments and International Investment Positions Manual, Sixth Edition (BPM6), Commission Regulation (EU) No 555/2012 on community statistics concerning balance of payments, international trade in services and foreign direct investment (amending Commission Regulation (EC) No 184/2005 , as regards the update of data requirements and definitions).
Quality reports for the BoP domain are prepared in accordance with Commission Regulation (EC) No 1227/2010 of 20 December 2010 implementing Regulation (EC) No 184/2005 (OJ No L 283/3).
The reference for National Accounts data (in the denominator of the MIP indicator) is the Regulation (EU) No 549/2013 on the European system of national and regional accounts in the European Union (ESA 2010).
In the compilation of BoP, responsibility is shared between Eurostat and the ECB. A Memorandum of Understanding (with a BoP Annex) has been signed between the two parties.

The indicator Current account balance is part of the MIP Scoreboard indicators set up under Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable.


7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

The Regulation 2015/759 of 29 April 2015, amending Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics of 11 March 2009 [recital 24 and Article 20(4)], stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those data.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Not applicable


8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Data are released on the Eurostat Reference Database as soon as received from national authorities. Release calendars exist for the BoP quarterly data and for the euro area balance of payments.

8.2. Release calendar access

A release calendar for MIP scoreboard indicators is not available. BoP quarterly data are published in accordance with the Eurostat release calendar.

8.3. Release policy - user access

The MIP Regulation stipulates that “the Commission shall make the set of indicators and the thresholds in the scoreboard public” (Art. 4, para. 6, Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011 of 16 November 2011 on the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances) and that “the Commission shall update the values for the indicators on the scoreboard at least on an annual basis” (Art. 4, para. 8, ib.).

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see §10 'Accessibility and clarity') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.


9. Frequency of dissemination Top

MIP related indicators are updated and released in accordance to the dissemination of the underlying data:

  • BoP data: monthly, quarterly and annual
  • Remittances, international trade in services and foreign direct investment data: annual.


10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

News releases on-line

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

The indicators are part of the MIP Scoreboard used to identify emerging or persistent macroeconomic imbalances in EU Member States. The Scoreboard is part of an annual exercise, where the first step is the compilation of an Alert Mechanism Report (AMR).

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

See data availability for the different tables (see § 3.8 for the labels corresponding to each table code): tipsbp10tipsbp11; tipsbp12; tipsbp13; tipsbp14; tipsbp15; tipsbp16; tipsbp17; tipsbp18; tipsbp19tipsbp20; tipsbp21; tipsbp22; tipsbp40; tipsbp41; tipsbp42; tipsbp43; tipsbp44; tipsbp45; tipsbp46; tipsbp47; tipsbp48tipsbp49; tipsbp50tipsbp51; tipsbp52; tipsbp53; tipsbp54tipsbp70; tipsbp90; tipsbp100.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not available

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Not available

10.6. Documentation on methodology

The methodological framework followed in the compilation of the Balance of Payments is that defined in the IMF’s Balance of Payments and International Investment Positions Manual, Sixth Edition (BPM6).

A summary of national methodologies used for the compilation of BoP by members of the European Union can be found in the ECB publication "European Union Balance of Payments and International Investment Position statistical sources and methods" published in November 2016.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

Eurostat's mission is to provide the European Union with a high-quality statistical information service - see: Eurostat quality framework.

Moreover, the statistics underlying the Scoreboard indicators are subject to a specific quality assurance framework developed within the MIP context.


11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Quality is assured by the application of the concepts according to the IMF’s Balance of Payments and International Investment Positions Manual, Sixth Edition (BPM6) and thorough validation of the data delivered by countries. Information on source and methods applied at national level (for example available in the "European Union Balance of Payments/International Investment Position statistical methods - B.o.p. and i.i.p. book” published in November 2016) ensures that data are collected from reliable sources applying high standards with regard to the methodology and ensuring high comparability.

For the quality assurance of the statistics underlying the MIP Eurostat and the DG Statistics of the European Central Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing a mutual recognition of the respective ESS and ESCB quality assurance frameworks, when the Member States have designated their National Central Banks for producing the datasets: Balance of payments and international investment position statistics and Financial accounts.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

In compliance with Commission Regulation (EC) No 1227/2010 of 20 December 2010 implementing Regulation (EC) No 184/2005 (OJ No L 283/3), Member States prepare and transmit a report (referred to as Quality Report) on the quality of the data transmitted for the balance of payments, international trade in services and foreign direct investment on an annual basis. The quality assessment verifies compliance with the quality criteria (relevance, accuracy, timeliness, punctuality, accessibility, clarity, comparability and coherence) laid down in the Regulation on European Statistics No 223/2009. The conclusions of the assessment of the quality of data are sent every year to the European Parliament for information. The latest overview report  "Quality report on balance of payments (BOP), international trade in services (ITS) and foreign direct investment (FDI)" provides analysis for data transmitted until September 2017.

The ECB publishes an Annual Quality Report on Euro area and national balance of payments and international investment position statistics. This report is the result of a Joint ECB-Eurostat Task Force on quality.

The quality assurance framework for the Macroeconomic imbalance procedure (MIP) follows a three-level structure:

The first level assesses the reliability and comparability of MIP underlying statistics and addresses relevant quality issues; it also enhances the communication on quality assurance of MIP statistics towards the European Parliament and Council, policy makers and the public at large. This level draws on the information gathered in levels two and three (see below).

The second level consists of domain-specific quality reports produced by Eurostat and the ECB summarising the main findings for the euro area or the EU Member States. Reports assess the underlying compilation process and its robustness, describe its legal basis and evaluate whether the statistics are in line with international statistical standards.

The third level consists of national quality reports (self-assessments) produced by the institution compiling the national statistics. Most of these reports are voluntarily published by Members States on the CMFB’s website and their availability depends upon the statistical domain.


12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

The indicator Current account balance is one of the headline indicators of the MIP Scoreboard. The MIP Scoreboard is used as an early warning system in the context of the macroeconomic surveillance of the EU Member States. The MIP Scoreboard consists of a set of fourteen indicators, covering the major sources of macroeconomic imbalances. The aim of the scoreboard is to trigger in-depth studies, which will do analyses to determine whether potential imbalances identified in the early-warning system are benign or problematic.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Not available.

12.3. Completeness

Data offer complete and consistent description of the components of the Balance of Payments and ITS components with their geographical breakdown and in accordance with IMF’s Balance of Payments and International Investment Positions Manual, Sixth Edition (BPM6). Recalculation of data series for statistics before 2014 according to the new methodology are provided by Member States on a voluntary basis.

The Introduction part of the Statistical annex of each Alert mechanism report provides detailed information on data completeness. 


13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

The indicators are associated with a high level of overall accuracy. Data transmitted by the Member States are checked in Eurostat for their consistency and plausibility. If any problem is found, Eurostat contacts the relevant Member State for checking the figures or confirming the changes.
Data on goods are based on International Trade in Goods Statistics, which are often collected by customs' administrations. Data on services come from a variety of surveys where data can be reported either by banks or directly by enterprises or households.
At the European level, accuracy of GDP is regularly monitored in the framework of the GNI (Gross National Income) Committee and technical aspects are regularly analysed in several working groups and technical committees.

13.2. Sampling error

Not applicable

13.3. Non-sampling error

Not applicable


14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

BoP monthly data are released within 7 weeks after the reference period.

Regarding BoP quarterly data:

  • a first estimate for EU and euro area aggregates is published 7 weeks after the reference period;
  • the complete BoP quarterly dataset, as well as quarterly IIP and revaluations are published 3 months and 2 weeks after the reference period.

BoP annual data (on which the MIP headline indicator is calculated) are updated as soon as the corresponding quarterly data are available.

Annual Foreign direct investments (FDI) data are released around 11 - 12 months after the reference period. Preliminary data, with limited detail for partners and posts, are released 4 - 5 months after the reference period.

14.2. Punctuality

Punctuality depends on the delivery of basic data used for the calculation of MIP indicators. Eurostat monitors closely punctuality of basic data delivery by countries. Generally countries meet the delivery deadlines very well (44 days after the reference period for BoP monthly data, 85 days after the reference period for the complete quarterly BoP dataset and quarterly IIP and revaluations, 9 months after the reference period for annual international trade in services and foreign direct investment transactions, income and positions, 21 months after the reference period for activity breakdown of foreign direct investment transactions and positions).


15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

The underlying methodological framework, which is defined in BPM6, ensures a high degree of comparability across countries. Commission Regulation (EU) No 555/2012 contains the questionnaires as well as all details on the coding system, data format and deadlines for transmission. Each country compiles its BoP statistics using data coming from a number of surveys and administrative sources.
Questionnaires and data requests with all details and explanations concerning requested item, geographical and activity breakdowns are included in the Balance of Payments Vademecum.

The methodologies used by Member States when compiling the BoP are covered in the country chapters of the ECB's publication 'European Union Balance of Payments/International Investment Position statistical methods'.

15.2. Comparability - over time

Data are generally considered highly comparable over time. The methodology is revised according to the revisions of the IMF's Balance of Payments Manual, Sixth edition (BPM6). In some countries, methodological breaks can affect the time series (normally on a temporary basis). Backward calculations of time series are provided to ensure full time coherence in a case of methodological changes.

Information on data, breaks in series, flags are provided in the footnotes, published under each data table.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Consistency checks are possible with component data and with some of the data published by National Accounts domain (in particular with the figures appearing inside the Rest of the World account) and with the aggregate figures on imports and exports of goods published by International Trade in Goods Statistics. However, even though both Balance of Payments and International Trade in Goods statistics provide data for the external trade in goods of a given country, the two data sets generally do not show the same figures.
More information on methodology of national data can be found on the Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board of the IMF (International Monetary Fund).

15.4. Coherence - internal

Not applicable


16. Cost and Burden Top

Not applicable


17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

Monthly, quarterly and annual data are revised with the updated information transmitted by Member States, according to the timetable specified in the BoP Vademecum. Major changes in methodology are the result of legislation (or due to other reasons) and therefore announced in the Official Journal of the European Union.

17.2. Data revision - practice

Monthly data are transmitted 44 days after the reference month. First release of quarterly data is calculated as sum of monthly data and should be considered as provisional. Quarterly data are revised when more detailed information (by components and geographical breakdown) is transmitted by Member States 82-85 days after the reference quarter. Quarterly data are also revised when information for the next quarters is provided by Member States. Finally, quarterly data are also subject to revision when the annual data are published, in order to ensure consistency between quarterly and annual figures.


18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Data published by Eurostat are compiled on the basis of data provided by Member States.
Each year or quarter, national central banks or national statistical offices of the Member States provide Eurostat with data according to a set of questionnaires approved by all Member States and designed to fulfil a set of requirements. The Balance of Payments Vademecum is the reference text for national BoP compilers. This document contains the questionnaires, all details on the coding system, the data format, and the deadlines for transmission.
Each country compiles its BoP statistics using the data coming from a number of surveys and administrative sources. Methods used for the collection and compilation of statistics differ among BoP items within a country, as well as among countries.

Data for BoP item Goods are generally based on International Trade in Goods Statistics, which are often collected by customs' administrations.

Data for BoP item Services come from a variety of surveys where data can be reported either by banks or directly by enterprises or households.

Data for BoP item Primary Income are generally estimated using information coming from the banking sector and other financial institutions.

Data for BoP item Secondary income generally come from administrative sources.

Data for BoP Financial account and International investment position generally come from banks and from other financial and non financial institutions.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Annual, quarterly and monthly.

18.3. Data collection

The Balance of Payments Vademecum is the reference text for national BoP compilers. Once data are compiled by national authorities in the reporting format they are transmitted to Eurostat.
Information on BoP compilation systems in individual countries could be found in each SDDS country page published in the IMF's Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board.

18.4. Data validation

Eurostat submits all data received from the reporting countries to a number of checks. These checks verify the plausibility of the data (e.g. the development of the time series), their internal consistency (aggregates should match the sum of sub-items), their correspondence with data already disseminated by the same country on its NSI web-page or with data sent to IMF. Validation rules are described in the Balance of Payments Vademecum.

18.5. Data compilation

Time of recording: in line with the BPM6, recording is on a transaction basis ("accruals principle"), meaning that transactions have to be recorded when economic value is created, transformed, transferred or extinguished. The main criterion is change of ownership. The change may be legal or economic. Valuation: in principle, market prices are used.

In the compilation of the BoP, responsibility is shared between Eurostat and the ECB. A Memorandum of Understanding (with a BoP Annex) has been signed between the two parties.

18.6. Adjustment

Not applicable


19. Comment Top

Not applicable


Related metadata Top
bop_6_esms - Balance of payments - International transactions (BPM6) (bop_6)
bop_fdi6_esms - European Union direct investments (BPM6)


Annexes Top