Balance of payments statistics - quarterly data


Data extracted in July 2019.

Planned article update: October 2019.

Highlights

EU current account surplus was € 23.4 billion in the first quarter of 2019.

The surplus for trade in services amounted to € 41.5 billion in the first quarter of 2019.

Balances of current account, EU-28, main items as share of GDP, 2019Q1(%)
Source: Eurostat (bop_eu6_q)

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, primary income, and secondary income, 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.

Full article

Current account

The EU-28 non-seasonally adjusted external current account recorded a surplus of EUR 23.4 billion (0.6 % of GDP) in the first quarter of 2019, down from a surplus of EUR 41.9 bn (1.1 % of GDP) in the first quarter of 2018, according to the estimates released by Eurostat.

Figure 1: Balances of current account, EU-28, main items as share of GDP, 2019Q1(%)
Source: Eurostat (bop_eu6_q)

In the first quarter of 2019 compared with the first quarter of 2018, based on non-seasonally adjusted data, the surplus of the goods account turned into deficit (EUR -3.3 bn compared with EUR +15.0 bn), while the surplus of the services account slightly increased (EUR +41.5 bn compared with EUR +40.7 bn). The surplus of the primary income account decreased (EUR +7.1 bn compared with EUR +9.8 bn), as did the deficit of the secondary income account (EUR -21.9 bn compared with EUR -23.6 bn). In the capital account, EU-28 recorded a deficit of EUR -8.7 bn, up from a deficit of EUR -1.2 bn in the first quarter of 2018. In the first quarter of 2019 compared with the first quarter of 2018, there were increases in the values of both credit and debit transactions for goods, services and primary income, while for secondary income there was a small increase in value for credits but a decrease in debits.

Table 1: Main items of the current and capital account, EU-28, 2019Q1 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat (bop_eu6_q)


Table 2: Trade in services with the rest of the world, EU-28, 2019Q1 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat (bop_eu6_q)

The surplus recorded in the services account (EUR +41.5 bn euro) was mainly the result of surpluses in telecommunications, computer & information services (EUR +20.3 bn), financial services (EUR +8.7 bn), other business services, which includes research and development, professional, management consulting, technical, trade-related and other business services (EUR +7.1 bn), transport (EUR +6.8 bn), insurance services (EUR +2.9 bn), construction services (EUR +2.1 bn), travel (EUR +1.8 bn) and manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others (EUR +1.5 bn), partly offset by a deficit in charges for the use of intellectual property (EUR -10.8 bn). The United Kingdom (mainly with other business services and financial services), France (mainly with charges for the use of intellectual property and other business services), Spain (mainly with travel and telecommunications, computer and information services) and Germany (mainly with charges for the use of intellectual property) contributed in the biggest part to the surplus. Out of 27 Member States for which data are available, 24 recorded surpluses in trade in services with extra-EU economic counterparts, while only 3 (the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Cyprus, due to charges for the use of intellectual property and other business services) had deficits.

The primary income surplus (EUR +7.1 bn) was the result of the by surpluses in direct investment income (EUR +21.9 bn) as well as in compensation of employees (EUR +3.7 bn), partially offset by deficit in portfolio investment income (EUR -18.7 bn) and other investment income (EUR -2.0 bn).

Table 3: Primary income with the rest of the world, EU-28, 2019Q1 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat (bop_eu6_q)

Geographical breakdown of current account transactions

In the first quarter of 2019, the EU-28 external current account recorded a surplus with the the United States (+€53.5 bn), Switzerland (+€20.6 bn), Hong Kong (+€6.0 bn), Canada (+€5.1 bn), Brazil (+€2.5 bn) and Japan (+€0.3 bn). Deficits were registered with China (-€30.6 bn), Russia (-€13.2 bn), India (-€1.9 bn) and offshore financial centres (-€1.0 bn).

The EU-28 recorded highest surpluses in goods account with the United States (EUR +45.9 bn), offshore financial centres (EUR +12.9 bn), Switzerland (+€5.6 bn) and Hong Kong (+€4.6 bn) and significant deficits with China (-38.8 bn) and Russia (-18.3 bn). In services account the biggest surpluses took place with Switzerland (EUR +14.7 bn), China (+4.9 bn) and the United States (EUR +4.1 bn) and the biggest deficit with offshore financial centres (EUR -14.9 bn). The most substantial surpluses in primary income account occurred with the United States and China (both EUR +3.6 bn), while a deficit was recorded only with Japan (EUR -2.9 bn). In secondary income account deficits were recorded with all above analysed counterparts, except for Japan (EUR +0.1 bn).

Table 4: Balances with major economic partners, EU-28, 2019Q1 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat (bop_eu6_q)

Financial account

In the first quarter of 2019 there was a net increase of financial assets by the EU-28 residents of EUR 239.3 bn and a net increase of liabilities by EUR 213.9 bn. The EU-28 was the net direct investor to the rest of the world with net outflows of EUR 111.5 bn. Direct investment assets held abroad by the EU-28 investors grew by EUR 110.4 bn, while direct investment liabilities of the EU-28 to the rest of the world decreased by EUR 1.1 bn.

Table 5: Financial account transactions with the rest of the world, EU-28, 2019Q1 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat (bop_eu6_q)

Portfolio investment recorded a net outflow of EUR 16.2 bn. Portfolio investment assets abroad increased by EUR 77.1 bn, as did portfolio investment liabilities of the EU-28 to the rest of the world by EUR 61.0 bn. Other investment recorded a net inflow of EUR 103.9 bn. EU-28 investors increased their other investment assets held abroad by EUR 50.1 bn, while other investment liabilities of the EU-28 to the rest of the world increased by EUR 154.1 bn.

Figure 2: Current account as share of GDP, 2019Q1 (%)
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 available data, 18 recorded surpluses, 8 deficits and 1 balance in the first quarter of 2019. The highest surpluses were observed in Germany (+EUR 67.2 bn), the Netherlands (+EUR 18.1 bn), Sweden (+EUR 6.0 bn) and Austria (+EUR 5.4 bn) and the largest deficits in the United Kingdom (-EUR 37.1 bn), France (-EUR 15.9 bn), Spain (-EUR 5.5 bn) and Greece (-EUR 3.7 bn). In relation to GDP (size of the economy), the highest surpluses could be observed for the Netherlands (9.2%), Germany (7.9%) and Slovenia (6.6%), and the biggest deficits for Croatia (-18.4%), Cyprus (-11.6%) and Greece (-8.7%).

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

International investment position of Member States

In the first quarter of 2019, for the data available, external liabilities - representing the negative net international investment position - were higher than assets, in 18 EU Member States while external assets exceeded liabilities in 9 Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Finland). Germany recorded the highest value of net IIP of EUR 2 216.6 bn, due to direct, portfolio and other investment positions, being followed by the Netherlands (EUR 597.5 bn) and Belgium (EUR 224.7 bn), mainly due to direct investment. Spain had the highest net international indebtedness among the EU Member States, at EUR 945.3 bn, due to its position in portfolio and other investments.

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

Data sources

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 is responsible for 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[1]. 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.

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Database

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

Notes

  1. See footnote 1.