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  • PRESS RELEASE

Euro area monthly balance of payments: January 2021

22 March 2021

  • Current account recorded €30 billion surplus in January 2021, down from €37 billion in previous month
  • Current account surplus amounted to €263 billion (2.3% of euro area GDP) in 12 months to January 2021, slightly up from €262 billion (2.2%) one year earlier
  • In financial account, euro area residents’ net acquisitions of foreign portfolio investment securities totalled €681 billion and non-residents’ net acquisitions of euro area portfolio investment securities totalled €126 billion in 12 months to January 2021

Chart 1

Euro area current account balance

(EUR billions unless otherwise indicated; working day and seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

The current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €30 billion in January 2021, decreasing by €7 billion from the previous month (see Chart 1 and Table 1). Surpluses were recorded for goods (€39 billion) and services (€12 billion). These were partly offset by deficits for secondary income (€17 billion) and primary income (€4 billion).

Table 1

Current account of the euro area

(EUR billions unless otherwise indicated; transactions; working day and seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

Note: Discrepancies between totals and their components may be due to rounding.

Data for the current account of the euro area

In the 12 months to January 2021, the current account recorded a surplus of €263 billion (2.3% of euro area GDP), compared with a surplus of €262 billion (2.2% of euro area GDP) in the 12 months to January 2020. The surplus for goods and for services increased (up from €330 billion to €353 billion and from €48 billion to €49 billion, respectively). The surplus for primary income (from €40 billion to €17 billion) declined and the deficit for secondary income (up from €156 billion to €157 billion) increased slightly.

Chart 2

Selected items of the euro area financial account

(EUR billions; 12-month cumulated data)

Source: ECB.

Notes: For assets, a positive (negative) number indicates net purchases (sales) of non-euro area instruments by euro area investors. For liabilities, a positive (negative) number indicates net sales (purchases) of euro area instruments by non-euro area investors.

In direct investment, euro area residents made net investments of €83 billion in non-euro area assets in the 12-month period to January 2021, compared with net investments of €7 billion in the 12 months to January 2020 (see Chart 2 and Table 2). Non-residents’ net investments in euro area assets increased to €209 billion in the 12-month period to January 2021, up from €86 billion in the 12 months to January 2020.

In portfolio investment, net purchases of foreign debt securities by euro area residents increased to €454 billion in the 12-month period to January 2021, following net purchases of €369 billion in the 12 months to January 2020. Over the same period, euro area residents made net purchases of foreign equity of €227 billion, after recording net purchases of €90 billion in the 12 months to January 2020. Non-residents made net purchases of euro area debt securities amounting to €4 billion in the 12 months to January 2021, following net purchases of €241 billion in the 12 months to January 2020. Over the same period, non-residents’ net purchases of euro area equity decreased to €121 billion from €295 billion in the 12 months to January 2020.

Table 2

Financial account of the euro area

(EUR billions unless otherwise indicated; transactions; non-working day and non-seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

Notes: Decreases in assets and liabilities are shown with a minus sign. Net financial derivatives are reported under assets. “MFIs” stands for monetary financial institutions. Discrepancies between totals and their components may be due to rounding.

Data for the financial account of the euro area

In other investment, euro area residents’ net acquisitions of foreign assets decreased to €170 billion in the 12 months to January 2021 (following net acquisitions of €382 billion in the 12 months to January 2020), while their net incurrence of liabilities increased to €303 billion from €42 billion.

Chart 3

Monetary presentation of the balance of payments

(EUR billions; 12-month cumulated data)

Source: ECB.

Notes: “MFI net external assets (enhanced)” incorporates an adjustment to the MFI net external assets (as reported in the consolidated MFI balance sheet items statistics) based on information on MFI long-term liabilities held by non-residents, available in b.o.p. statistics. B.o.p. transactions refer only to transactions of non-MFI residents of the euro area. Financial transactions are shown as liabilities net of assets. “Other” includes financial derivatives and statistical discrepancies.

The monetary presentation of the balance of payments (see Chart 3) shows that the net external assets (enhanced) of euro area MFIs increased by €3 billion in the 12-month period to January 2021. This increase was driven by the current and capital accounts surplus and, to a lesser extent, euro area non-MFIs’ net inflows in direct investment and in other flows. These developments were partly offset by euro area non-MFIs’ net outflows in portfolio investment equity and debt securities and in other investment.

In January 2021 the Eurosystem’s stock of reserve assets slightly increased to €880.2 billion, up from €879.8 billion in the previous month (see Table 3). This increase was driven by positive exchange rate changes (€3.0 billion), which were only partly offset by negative price changes (€1.6 billion) and net sales of assets (€0.9 billion).

Table 3

Reserve assets of the euro area

(EUR billions; amounts outstanding at the end of the period, flows during the period; non-working day and non-seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

Note: “Other reserve assets” comprises currency and deposits, securities, financial derivatives (net) and other claims.

Data for the reserve assets of the euro area

Data revisions

This press release does not incorporate revisions to previous periods.

Next releases:

  • quarterly balance of payments and international investment position: 9 April 2021 (reference data up to the fourth quarter of 2020)
  • monthly balance of payments: 19 April 2021 (reference data up to February 2021)

For media queries, please contact Philippe Rispal, tel.: +49 69 1344 5482.

Notes

  • Current account data are always seasonally and working day-adjusted, unless otherwise indicated, whereas capital and financial account data are neither seasonally nor working day-adjusted.
  • Hyperlinks in this press release lead to data that may change with subsequent releases as a result of revisions.
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