Euro area quarterly balance of payments and international investment position (fourth quarter of 2014)
The current account of the euro area showed a surplus of €212.7 billion (2.1% of euro area GDP) in 2014.
At the end of 2014, the international investment position of the euro area recorded net liabilities of €1.3 trillion (approximately 13% of euro area GDP).
In the last quarter of 2014, the current account of the euro area showed a surplus of €91.8 billion, compared with €78.9 billion in the last quarter of 2013 (see Table 1). The increase in the current account surplus was due to increases in the surpluses for goods (from €60.0 billion to €81.1 billion) and primary income (from €29.5 billion to €30.3 billion). These developments were partly offset by a decrease in the surplus for services (from €18.7 billion to €12.8 billion) and by an increase in the deficit for secondary income (from €29.3 to €32.4 billion). 
The developments in services were broadly explained by a deterioration of the balances for all major components, with the exception of telecommunication, computer and information services, where the surplus rose from €10.6 billion to €12.2 billion.
The increase in the primary income surplus was driven by a decrease in the investment income deficit for portfolio investment, while all other primary income components remained broadly unchanged.
International investment position
At the end of 2014, the international investment position of the euro area recorded net liabilities of €1.3 trillion vis-à-vis the rest of the world (approximately 13% of euro area GDP; see Chart 1). This represented a decrease of €38 billion in net liabilities, in comparison with the third quarter of 2014 (see Table 2).
The decrease was the result of (i) lower net liability positions for portfolio investment (from €3,631 billion to €3,606 billion) and financial derivatives (from €75 billion to €39 billion), (ii) a shift from a net liability position to a net asset position for other investment (from €6 billion to €128 billion) and (iii) higher reserve assets (from €519 billion to €534 billion). These developments were partly offset by a decrease in the net asset position for direct investment (from €1,867 billion to €1,697 billion).
The changes in the net position for all components, except portfolio investment, were due mainly to revaluations – changes in exchange rates and asset prices – and other volume changes, whereas the developments in portfolio investment were explained by transactions and offsetting other changes (see Chart 2).
At the end of 2014, the gross external debt of the euro area amounted to €12 trillion (approximately 120% of euro area GDP), which represented an increase of €30 billion in comparison with the previous quarter. By contrast, the net external debt decreased by the same amount (€30 billion), on account of a more marked increase in euro area residents’ holdings of (debt) assets issued by non-residents.
This press release incorporates significant revisions to the data for the reference periods between the first quarter of 2013 and the third quarter of 2014. These revisions reflect both major improvements in the national contributions to the euro area aggregates and compilation efforts to estimate preliminary euro area aggregates back to January (first quarter) 2009.
Time series data: ECB’s Statistical Data Warehouse (SDW).Methodological information Next press releases:
Monthly balance of payments: 17 April 2015 (reference data up to February 2015).
Quarterly balance of payments and international investment position: 9 July 2015 (reference data up to the first quarter of 2015)
Table 1: Current account of the euro area
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In broad terms, the new BPM6 concept of “primary income” corresponds to the old BPM5 concept of “income”, and the new concept of “secondary income” corresponds to the old concept of “current transfers”.