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PRESS RELEASE

Euro area Balance of Payments (geographical breakdown for the first quarter of 2008) and International Investment Position (at the end of the first quarter of 2008)

16 July 2008

The current account of the euro area balance of payments recorded a deficit of EUR 15.2 billion in the first quarter of 2008 (non-seasonally adjusted data). Deficits were observed with the group of “other countries” (i.e. non-G10 countries outside the European Union (EU)), the EU institutions and Japan. The main surpluses were with the United Kingdom, the countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007, and the United States.

In the financial account, combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net outflows of EUR 31 billion, as net outflows in direct investment exceeded net inflows in portfolio investment. The net outflows in direct investment amounted to EUR 105 billion and were mainly directed towards the group of “other countries”, Switzerland and the United States. Portfolio investment recorded net inflows of EUR 73 billion. Portfolio investment outflows amounted to EUR 47 billion and predominantly concerned purchases by euro area residents of debt instruments issued in the group of “other countries”, the United States and the United Kingdom.

At the end of the first quarter of 2008, the international investment position of the euro area recorded net liabilities of EUR 1.3 trillion with the rest of the world (14% of euro area GDP). This represented a decrease in net liabilities of EUR 16 billion in comparison with the end of the fourth quarter of 2007.

Geographical breakdown of the euro area balance of payments for the first quarter of 2008

Current and capital accounts

The non-seasonally adjusted current account of the euro area balance of payments (b.o.p.) recorded a deficit of EUR 15.2 billion in the first quarter of 2008 (see Table 1a). This was the result of deficits in current transfers (EUR 29.0 billion) and goods (EUR 2.9 billion), which were only partly offset by surpluses in services (EUR 10.7 billion) and income (EUR 6.1 billion). The capital account recorded a surplus of EUR 5.6 billion.

The largest deficits in goods were with mainland China (EUR 25.3 billion), Russia (EUR 9.1 billion) and Japan (EUR 5.5 billion). The largest surpluses were with the United Kingdom (EUR 15.3 billion), the United States (EUR 11.6 billion) and the countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 (EUR 10.8 billion).

The euro area surplus in services was mainly accounted for by surpluses vis-à-vis the United Kingdom (EUR 4.4 billion) and Switzerland (EUR 2.8 billion).

The euro area surplus in income reflected surpluses with the group of “other countries” (EUR 5.4 billion), the countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 (EUR 4.7 billion), and the United Kingdom (EUR 3.4 billion). These surpluses were partly offset by deficits vis-à-vis Japan (EUR 6.4 billion) and Switzerland (EUR 3.2 billion).

The deficit in current transfers was predominantly vis-à-vis the EU institutions (EUR 17.1 billion) and the group of “other countries” (EUR 11.1 billion). The surplus in the capital account predominantly reflected a surplus vis-à-vis the EU institutions (EUR 7.8 billion).

The four-quarter cumulated current account of the euro area up to the first quarter of 2008 showed a surplus of EUR 7.6 billion (around 0.1 % of GDP), compared with a surplus of EUR 9.7 billion a year earlier (see Table 1b). This development was predominantly due to an increase in the current transfers deficit (from EUR 78.2 billion to EUR 91.8 billion), in particular with the EU institutions, and a decrease in the income surplus (from EUR 10.1 billion to EUR 3.4 billion), which mainly resulted from a decrease in the surplus with the group of “other countries”. By contrast, the goods surplus increased from EUR 33.1 billion to EUR 44.0 billion and the services surplus increased from EUR 44.7 billion to EUR 52.1 billion. While the increase in the goods surplus stemmed largely from higher surpluses vis-à-vis the United Kingdom and the countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007, the increase in the services surplus mainly originated from larger net exports to the group of “other countries”, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

Financial account

In the b.o.p. financial account, combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net outflows of EUR 31 billion in the first quarter of 2008, as net outflows in direct investment exceeded net inflows in portfolio investment.

Net outflows in direct investment (EUR 105 billion) were directed mainly towards the group of “other countries” (EUR 33 billion), Switzerland (EUR 24 billion) and the United States (EUR 21 billion).

Portfolio investment recorded net inflows of EUR 73 billion, mainly as a result of purchases of euro area bonds and notes by non-residents (EUR 68 billion) Net purchases of foreign securities by euro area investors amounted to EUR 47 billion and predominantly comprised debt securities issued in the United States (EUR 33 billion), the group of “other countries” (EUR 33 billion) and the United Kingdom (EUR 32 billion).

Financial derivatives recorded net outflows of EUR 15 billion.

Other investment recorded net inflows of EUR 71 billion, which were mainly the result of net inflows from the United Kingdom (EUR 151 billion) and, to a lesser extent, the United States (EUR 32 billion). These inflows were partly offset by net outflows to the group of “other countries” (EUR 42 billion), Denmark (EUR 20 billion) and Hong Kong (EUR 19 billion).

International investment position at the end of the first quarter of 2008

At the end of the first quarter of 2008, the international investment position (i.i.p.) of the euro area recorded net liabilities of EUR 1,279 billion with the rest of the world (around 14% of euro area GDP). This represented a decrease in net liabilities of EUR 16 billion in comparison with the revised data for the end of the fourth quarter of 2007 (see Table 2).

The decrease in the net liability position predominantly reflected positive “other changes” (primarily revaluations on account of exchange rate and asset price changes), amounting to EUR 35 billion, mainly related to portfolio investment.

Data revisions

This press release incorporates revisions of the b.o.p. (with a geographical breakdown) and the i.i.p. for the fourth quarter of 2007 and for the sum of the monthly b.o.p. for January, February and March 2008. The latter was revised from EUR 21.9 billion to EUR 15.2 billion. The revisions of the b.o.p. primarily concern the financial account. The revisions of the i.i.p. mostly affect the net asset positions in direct investment (revised from EUR 3,428 billion to EUR 3,472 billion) and other investment (revised from EUR 5,156 billion to EUR 5,179 billion)

Additional information on the euro area balance of payments and international investment position

A geographical breakdown of the quarterly b.o.p. of the euro area is not available for the items “portfolio investment liabilities”, “financial derivatives” or “reserve assets”. In addition, separate data are not provided for investment income payable to Brazil, mainland China, India and Russia. A geographical breakdown of the i.i.p. is available only on an annual basis.

The ECB and the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat) each issue a press release on the quarterly b.o.p. for the euro area and the EU (see Eurostat’s “Euro-Indicators” news releases). In line with the agreed allocation of responsibilities, the ECB compiles and disseminates monthly and quarterly b.o.p. statistics for the euro area, whereas Eurostat focuses on quarterly and annual aggregates for the EU. These data comply with international standards, particularly those set out in the IMF’s Balance of Payments Manual (fifth edition). The aggregates for the euro area and the EU are compiled consistently on the basis of Member States’ transactions and positions with residents of countries outside the euro area and the EU respectively.

A complete set of updated euro area b.o.p. and i.i.p. data is available on the ECB’s website in the “Statistics” section under the headings “Data services”/“Latest monetary, financial markets and balance of payments statistics”. These data, as well as the historical euro area b.o.p. and i.i.p. time series, can be downloaded using the ECB’s Statistical Data Warehouse (SDW). The data will be published in the August 2008 issues of the ECB’s Monthly Bulletin and Statistics Pocket Book. A detailed methodological note is available on the ECB’s website. The next quarterly press release on the euro area b.o.p. (including a geographical breakdown) and i.i.p. will be published on 17 October 2008.

Annexes

Table 1a: Quarterly balance of payments of the euro area with a geographical breakdown (Q1 2008)

Table 1b: Quarterly balance of payments of the euro area with a geographical breakdown (four-quarter cumulated transactions ending in Q1 2007 and in Q1 2008)

Table 2:Quarterly balance of payments and international investment position of the euro area

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