Foreign trade increased faster in Estonia in 2016 than in the euro area as a whole

  • The surplus on the current account of the Estonian balance of payments in 2016 was the largest since independence was regained
  • Foreign trade picked up last year as both exports and imports increased
  • Estonia is one of the few EU member states to owe less to other countries than is owed to it

According to adjusted figures, the surplus on the current account of the Estonian balance of payments in 2016 was the largest since independence was regained, amounting to 0.4 billion euros or around 2% of GDP. Exports and imports of both goods and services grew notably faster than in the euro area as a whole, as the turnover of goods and services increased by less than 1% in the euro area, but by over 4% in Estonia. As exports of goods grew faster than the imports, the deficit on the goods account narrowed to 0.8 billion euros. The surplus on services decreased slightly over the year to 1.6 billion euros.

Estonia was a net lender to the rest of the world again in 2016 as the outflow of capital exceeded the inflow by 0.4 billion euros. Capital mainly moved through portfolio investment, with the largest part of investments going into foreign securities and fund shares.

Estonia is one of the few member states of the European Union to owe less to other countries than is owed to it, and at the end of 2016 the rest of the world owed Estonia 21.5 billion euros while Estonia’s debt was 19 billion euros. This means that Estonia’s external assets exceeded external liabilities by 2.5 billion euros. The same case applies only in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Belgium and Germany while the other European Union members have larger debts to the rest of the world than they have invested there.

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Eesti Pank publishes the balance of payments yearbook each autumn for the previous year. The balance of payments yearbook contains a detailed analysis of the three main documents containing external sector statistical data – the balance of payments, the international investment position and the gross external debt – at national and sectoral levels illustrated with tables and figures. The time series are of up to ten years. This year’s yearbook will contain a comparison of the Estonian external sector with other European countries for the third time.

It also contains a thorough description of the methodology for compiling the balance of payments statistics, which explains the concepts of the balance of payments, the international investment position and the external debt, and the system and practice of compiling statistics in Estonia. It also explains the legal basis for the compilation of statistics and the principles for publishing and adjusting data.

The Balance of Payments Yearbook is being published for the seventeenth time.