Implementation of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6)

The IMF’s Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual is a set of guidelines for compiling consistent, sound and timely balance of payments (b.o.p.) statistics. The sixth edition (BPM6) was released in 2009 and takes into account important developments in the global economy. Three major factors influenced the revision:

  • globalisation (increased use of cross-border production processes, complex international company structures and international labour mobility)
  • an increasing focus on balance sheets (reflected in the international investment position – i.i.p.)
  • financial innovation (increasingly complex financial instruments)

The update was carried out in close collaboration with the IMF Committee on Balance of Payments Statistics and involved extensive consultations with national compilers and international organisations, including the ECB and the European Commission (Eurostat).

Information on the major methodological changes is available in Appendix 8 of the BPM6, as well as in a set of frequently asked questions compiled by the ECB.

The manual was revised in parallel with the introduction of the System of National Accounts 2008 and the European System of Accounts 2010, in order to ensure consistency between external and domestic macroeconomic statistics.

The implementation of the BPM6 was coupled with a major change in the data codification structure used for the collection and dissemination of b.o.p. and i.i.p. data around the world, the BOP-DSD (Balance of Payments Data Structure Definition). At the same time the worldwide SDMX (Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange) standard was introduced for the transmission of external statistics.

Revised data requirements for ECB and Eurostat external statistics

The changeover to the new BPM6 methodology was prepared through cooperation between the ECB and Eurostat, which together share the responsibility for producing and publishing the b.o.p. and i.i.p. statistics for the EU.

New legal acts were drawn up that primarily reflect methodological changes introduced by the BPM6, but also help to close outstanding data gaps and bring external statistics into closer alignment with national accounts in terms of content and presentation.

Compared with the reporting required under the BPM5, the BPM6 includes much more detail on transactions and positions and a more granular geographical breakdown.

Legal framework

Guideline ECB/2011/23 on the statistical reporting requirements of the European Central Bank in the field of external statistics, as last amended by Guidelines ECB/2013/25 and ECB/2015/39, lays down new reporting requirements for euro area national central banks in the field of external statistics (b.o.p., i.i.p. and international reserves statistics) and data on international shipments of euro banknotes.

Recommendation ECB/2011/24, as last amended by Recommendation ECB/2014/2, complements Guideline ECB/2011/23 by addressing other authorities that are entrusted with the collection and compilation of external statistics in their respective countries:

Regulation (EC) No 184/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishes a common framework for reporting b.o.p., international trade in services and foreign direct investment data, and was also amended in line with the new international standards (BPM6), by Commission Regulation (EU) No 555/2012.

When translating the new manuals into legal acts, Eurostat and the ECB also simplified and aligned their data requests to ease the burden on compilers. The new monthly b.o.p. and the quarterly b.o.p. and i.i.p. datasets to be reported to Eurostat and the ECB are identical in every detail for the euro area countries.

In the case of Eurostat, the monthly b.o.p. data request is new and replaces the previous reporting of preliminary estimates of quarterly b.o.p. due 60 days after the reference period.

Data availability and accessibility

The ECB disseminates comprised monthly and quarterly data from 2008 onwards (main current account items back to 1999).

The level of detail is similar to the former BPM5 dataset, with a more granular geographical breakdown of the quarterly international investment positions, comparable to the former annual breakdown, and a full stock/flow reconciliation. Comprehensive seasonally and working day adjusted data for the main current account items are also made available.

International reserves statistics are available back to December 1999.

Data based on the previous methodology (BPM5) are no longer updated but are available from the ECB’s Statistical Data Warehouse.

The ECB’s statistical publications – monthly and quarterly statistical press releases and the Statistics Bulletin – have been reviewed to accommodate the new BPM6 nomenclature and increased data availability.

The ECB’s Statistical Data Warehouse also includes BPM6-based EU aggregates compiled by Eurostat under the new and common nomenclature.

An assessment of the impact on euro area aggregates of the implementation of the BPM6 is available in the box of the 2015 Quality Report of the euro area balance of payments and international investment position statistics

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