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  • Press release

Euro area monthly balance of payments: March 2021

20 May 2021

  • Current account recorded €18 billion surplus in March 2021, down from €26 billion in previous month
  • Current account surplus amounted to €267 billion (2.4% of euro area GDP) in 12 months to March 2021, up from €247 billion (2.1%) one year earlier
  • In financial account, euro area residents’ net acquisitions of foreign portfolio investment securities totalled €1.1 trillion and non-residents’ net acquisitions of euro area portfolio investment securities totalled €123 billion in 12 months to March 2021

Chart 1

Euro area current account balance

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

The current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €18 billion in March 2021, a decrease of €8 billion from the previous month (see Chart 1 and Table 1). Surpluses were recorded for goods (€24 billion) and services (€8 billion). These were partly offset by deficits for secondary income (€12 billion) and primary income (€2 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 March 2021, the current account recorded a surplus of €267 billion (2.4% of euro area GDP), compared with a surplus of €247 billion (2.1% of euro area GDP) in the 12 months to March 2020. This increase reflected a larger surplus in services (up from €20 billion to €75 billion) and, to a lesser extent, a larger surplus in goods (up from €334 billion to €344 billion). These developments were partly offset by a reduction in the surplus for primary income (down from €42 billion to €18 billion) and a larger deficit for secondary income (up from €149 billion to €169 billion).

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 €13 billion in non-euro area assets in the 12-month period to March 2021, following net disinvestments of €95 billion in the 12 months to March 2020 (see Chart 2 and Table 2). Non-residents’ net investments in euro area assets increased to €212 billion in the 12-month period to March 2021, up from €46 billion in the 12 months to March 2020.

In portfolio investment, net purchases of foreign debt securities by euro area residents increased to €614 billion in the 12-month period to March 2021, following net purchases of €203 billion in the 12 months to March 2020. Over the same period, euro area residents’ net purchases of foreign equity increased to €488 billion from €24 billion in the 12 months to March 2020. Non-residents made net sales of euro area debt securities amounting to €140 billion in the 12 months to March 2021, following net purchases of €231 billion in the 12 months to March 2020. Over the same period, non-residents’ net purchases of euro area equity increased to €263 billion from €172 billion in the 12 months to March 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 recorded net disposals of foreign assets amounting to €340 billion in the 12 months to March 2021 (following net acquisitions of €781 billion in the 12 months to March 2020), while their net incurrence of liabilities decreased to €103 billion from €354 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 decreased by €32 billion in the 12-month period to March 2021. This decrease was driven by euro area non-MFIs’ net outflows in portfolio investment debt securities and, to a lesser extent, by their net outflows in portfolio investment equity. These developments were partly offset by the current and capital accounts surplus and, to a lesser extent, by euro area non-MFIs’ net inflows in direct investment, other investment and other flows.

In March 2021 the Eurosystem’s stock of reserve assets increased slightly to €849.5 billion, from €848.6 billion in the previous month (see Table 3). This increase was mainly driven by positive exchange rate changes (€7.9 billion), which were partly offset by negative price changes (€6.4 billion) and, to a lesser extent, by net disposals of assets (€0.5 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. Discrepancies between totals and their components may be due to rounding.

Data for the reserve assets of the euro area

Data revisions

This press release incorporates revisions to the data for January and February 2021. These revisions did not significantly alter the figures previously published.

Next releases:

  • Monthly balance of payments: 18 June 2021 (reference data up to April 2021)
  • Quarterly balance of payments and international investment position: 5 July 2021 (reference data up to the first quarter of 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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