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PRESS RELEASE

Euro area quarterly balance of payments and international investment position (first quarter of 2016)

8 July 2016
  • The current account of the euro area showed a surplus of €335.3 billion (3.2% of euro area GDP) in the four quarters to the first quarter of 2016.[1]
  • At the end of the first quarter of 2016 the international investment position of the euro area recorded net liabilities of €1.3 trillion (approximately 12% of euro area GDP).

Current account

The current account of the euro area showed a surplus of €60.6 billion in the first quarter of 2016, compared with €54.9 billion in the same quarter of 2015 (see Table 1). The increase in the current account surplus was due to increases in the surpluses for goods (from €74.1 billion to €81.3 billion) and services (from €6.9 billion to €8.8 billion) and a decrease in the deficit for secondary income (from €50.5 billion to €44.0 billion), which were partly offset by a decrease in the surplus for primary income (from €24.4 billion to €14.5 billion).

The increase in the surplus for services resulted from an improvement in the balances for the travel (an increase in the surplus from €0.6 billion to €1.6 billion), telecommunication, computer and information services (an increase in the surplus from €12.5 billion to €14.6 billion) and other business services (a decrease in the deficit from €3.1 billion to €1.8 billion) components. This was partly offset by a slight deterioration in the balances for all the other components.

In the four quarters to the first quarter of 2016 the current account of the euro area showed a surplus of €335.3 billion (3.2% of euro area GDP), compared with one of €269.6 billion (2.7% of euro area GDP) a year earlier. The rise resulted from an increase in the surplus for goods (from €275.6 billion to €361.6 billion) and a decrease in the deficit for secondary income (from €141.6 billion to €125.7 billion). These developments were partly offset by decreases in the surpluses for services (from €68.9 billion to €60.0 billion) and primary income (from €67.0 billion to €39.5 billion).

International investment position

At the end of the first quarter of 2016 the international investment position of the euro area recorded net liabilities of €1.3 trillion vis-à-vis the rest of the world (approximately 12% of euro area GDP; see Chart 1). This represented a decrease of around €290 billion compared with the net position at the end of 2015 (see Table 2).

The decrease resulted mainly from a lower net asset position for direct investment (€1,466 billion, down from €1,788 billion) and a higher net liability position for other investment (€408 billion, up from €266 billion). These movements were only partly offset by a lower net liability position for portfolio investment (€2,962 billion, down from €3,104 billion) and an increase in reserve assets (€675 billion, up from €644 billion).

The change in the net international investment position of the euro area in the first quarter of 2016 can be broadly attributed to other volume changes, mainly related to changes in data coverage (see Chart 2). However, significant negative effects due to exchange rate changes have been recorded for all asset and liability components. The decrease in direct investment assets triggered by exchange rate changes was partly offset by large positive transactions, while the increase in direct investment liabilities can be explained by large positive transactions and other volume changes. The decreases in portfolio investment assets and liabilities resulted primarily from exchange rate developments, which were partly offset by positive transactions on the asset side and reinforced by negative price changes on the liability side.

At the end of the first quarter of 2016 the gross external debt of the euro area amounted to €13.3 trillion (approximately 127% of euro area GDP), which represents an increase of €325 billion compared with the previous quarter. This resulted mainly from transactions and other changes in volume, which were partly offset by revaluations (mostly exchange rate changes). The net external debt also increased (by approximately €260 billion) from the end of 2015 to the end of the first quarter of 2016.

Data revisions

This press release incorporates revisions to the data for the reference periods from the first quarter of 2015 to the last quarter of 2015. These revisions reflect improvements in the national contributions to the euro area aggregates, in particular the incorporation of some large corporations that moved their residency to the euro area in the course of 2015. They had a significant impact throughout the accounts, particularly visible in the international investment position.

Additional information

Annexes

For media queries, please contact Rocío González, Tel.: +49 69 1344 6451.

  1. [1]All data are neither seasonally nor working day-adjusted. Ratios to GDP (including in the charts) refer to four-quarter sums of non-seasonally and non-working day-adjusted GDP figures.

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