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Balance of Payments

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This chapter contains information on Ireland's transactions and positions with the rest of the world. The results shown are consistent with the new methodological standards implemented in June 2014, namely the IMF's Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, sixth edition (BPM6). The Balance of Payments data (14.1, 14.2 and 14.3) show transactions between residents of Ireland and non-residents. 14.4 shows the end of year stocks (or levels) of Ireland's financial assets and liabilities, the International Investment Position. The data in 14.5 shows the outstanding amount of credit granted by credit institutions resident in Ireland to Irish private sector residents, although loans granted by non-resident credit institutions to Irish residents are not included. 14.6 combines data from the financial and non-financial sector accounts and shows the trend in saving and investment for households.

14.1 Balance of International Payments – current and capital accounts
Item2014 2015
Current account  
Merchandise 114,46173,730 195,59285,024
  of which: Merchanting (net export)3,506- 7,727-
Services105,327111,453 121,605150,963
 Repairs and processing1,2231,255 1,1101,400
 Transport5,1932,171 5,9362,489
 Tourism and travel3,6564,826 4,3205,121
 Insurance8,7235,703 10,3007,090
 Financial services8,9706,892 11,0426,991
 Royalties/licences5,24248,288 6,72367,765
 Communications569984 6681,021
 Computer services49,166639 57,409916
 Business services20,70540,428 21,95857,902
    Research and development2,2778,704 1,75819,701
    Operational leasing9,442934 11,751770
    Misc. business services8,98730,791 8,44737,432
 Other services n.e.s.1,882266 2,139266
Primary income62,70591,353 61,665113,581
 Compensation of employees546703 542633
 Investment income60,84090,398 59,553112,635
    Direct investment income19,84943,566 15,77159,705
       Income on equity16,64738,399 12,14053,947
           Dividends & distributed branch profits2,44713,949 1,27715,166
           Reinvested earnings14,19924,449 10,86338,781
        Income on debt3,2035,167 3,6315,758
    Portfolio investment income32,91237,482 36,15744,430
        Income on equity8,99828,802 10,32435,740
        Income on debt23,9148,679 25,8338,690
    Other investment income8,0809,352 7,6248,499
 Other primary income1,318253 1,571312
Secondary income2,9235,674 4,0107,149
Current account - total285,414282,212 382,873356,716
Current account balance3,203 26,157
Capital account balance-6,769 -1,255
Memorandum item: Government income1284,692 1294,397
Source: CSO     

Interactive table: StatBank link

Table 14.1 shows the Current and Capital accounts from the Balance of Payments release. The current account is subdivided into three main sections; Merchandise, Services and Income.

In 2015, the current account was €26.2bn in surplus. This was mainly due to a net Merchandise surplus of €110.6bn which was offset by profit and interest outflows of €51.9bn and a services deficit of €29.4bn.

The main categories of services exports were computer services (€57.4bn) and business services (€22bn), while the largest categories of service imports were royalties (€67.8bn) and business services (€57.9bn).

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This map is © Ordnance Survey Ireland. All rights reserved. License number 01/05/001.
Show Table: 14.2 Exports of Merchandise and Services 2015

 Interactive table:  StatBank link  

The map 14.2 shows the exports of merchandise and services by partner country in 2015. Negative values are due to Merchanting.

In 2015, total exports of merchandise and services amounted to €317.2bn. The top 5 countries accounted for 51% of exports. The largest trading partner for exports was United Kingdom (€51.3bn) followed by United States with exports of €48.7bn, Germany €25.7bn, Belgium €19.5bn and China €18bn.  

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This map is © Ordnance Survey Ireland. All rights reserved. License number 01/05/001.
Show Table: 14.3 Imports of Merchandise and Services 2015

Interactive table: StatBank link  

The map 14.3 shows the imports of merchandise and services by trading partner country in 2015.

In 2015, total imports of merchandise and services amounted to €236bn. The top 3 countries accounted for 46% of imports. The largest trading partner for imports was United States (€43.8bn); imports from United Kingdom were €40bn and Netherlands €23.8bn.

14.4 International Investment Position - detailed data
Foreign assets
   Direct investment abroad 254,538255,670312,304387,987510,178815,202
       Equity capital and reinvested earnings 218,098213,766269,818340,246437,273729,484
       Other capital36,44041,90542,48747,74272,90585,718
   Portfolio investment 1,458,2891,432,2391,586,8561,625,3841,936,5192,157,117
       Equity 456,346435,197500,575591,116743,130844,562
       Debt instruments1,001,943997,0421,086,2811,034,2691,193,3891,312,555
         Bonds and notes721,791721,059786,409746,714794,565879,740
         Money market instruments280,152275,983299,872287,555398,824432,816
   Other investment 941,4521,010,251915,612792,2701,188,5241,298,805
      Loans, currency and deposits781,046820,585758,019616,279771,024874,285
       Trade credits32,57936,85839,94938,94446,42249,996
       Other assets 127,827152,806117,643137,047371,078374,524
   Reserve assets1,5871,3161,2941,1781,4262,013
      Monetary gold204235244159180178
       Special drawing rights830754748727776829
       Reserve position in the IMF178307301289308329
       Foreign exchange375201333
TOTAL FOREIGN ASSETS2,655,8662,699,4762,816,0662,806,8193,636,6474,273,137
Foreign liabilities
   Direct investment in Ireland 213,722224,511290,466296,412342,700795,644
       Equity capital and reinvested earnings 233,252228,993293,142307,938372,257546,067
       Other capital-19,530-4,483-2,676-11,527-29,557249,577
   Portfolio investment 1,668,1521,727,8261,917,0291,859,4762,400,3282,844,314
       Debt instruments 614,239582,428574,240341,860463,277532,875
         Bonds and notes589,365567,807552,343330,985449,388514,048
         Money market instruments24,87414,62121,89710,87513,88918,827
   Other investment 913,052929,525849,096887,4791,206,0491,164,438
       Loans, currency and deposits708,499695,522612,617589,300625,514602,731
       Trade credits17,35019,79116,43114,34219,84930,358
       Other liabilities187,203214,213220,048283,837560,684531,349
TOTAL FOREIGN LIABILITIES2,794,9262,881,8623,056,5913,043,3673,949,0774,804,396
Source: CSO

Interactive table: StatBank link

At the end of 2015 Ireland’s stock of financial assets amounted to €4,273.1bn. The corresponding stock of financial liabilities was €4,804.4bn. This resulted in a net liability of €531.3bn. 

14.5 Irish Private Sector Credit and Deposits, end of year
Credit advanced to Irish Private sector 334,598323,582302,164278,266226,881200,253
   1. Households130,089110,288111,076107,66096,86991,948
       1.1 Loans for house purchase99,57880,39684,97383,32278,28676,987
       1.2 Consumer credit18,99916,61714,20612,93311,52411,234
       1.3 Other loans11,51213,27511,89711,4057,0593,727
   2. Non-financial corporations92,79188,34484,33079,64860,54947,490
       2.1 Loans92,66088,18584,20479,52660,29247,210
       2.2 Securities131159126122257280
   3. Insurance corporations and pension funds/     
       other financial intermediaries111,718124,950106,75890,95869,46360,815
       3.1 Loans38,55942,16338,90730,73821,12818,506
       3.2 Securities73,15982,78767,85160,22048,33542,309
Deposits of Irish Private sector 168,299162,584166,474180,358165,820176,071
   4. Households94,62091,31492,39191,18291,44394,741
   5. Non-financial corporations33,53730,87030,88833,93339,80342,652
   6. Insurance corporations and pension funds/      
       other financial intermediaries40,14240,40043,19555,24334,57438,678
Credit Card statistics
Number of credit cards in issue (000)2,2282,1432,0552,0131,8961,884
Outstanding indebtedness on credit cards (€m)2,9112,7892,6202,4062,2061,967
Source: Central Bank of Ireland

Table 14.5 shows the outstanding amount of credit extended by credit institutions resident in Ireland to Irish private sector residents. It is important to note that the loans granted by non-resident credit institutions to Irish residents are not included in these tables. Hence, if a bank changes its jurisdiction this will affect the amounts shown in this table.

The amount owed by households to Irish banks continued to decline in 2015 standing at €91.9bn at year end. This reflects the persisting trend in recent years where households’ credit liabilities have fallen in cumulative terms by €38.1bn since 2010. Deposits held by households in 2014 rose by 3.6% in 2015 whereas indebtedness on the 1.9 million credit cards in issue decreased to €2.0bn in the same period, representing a decline of 10.8% over the previous year.

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Gross SavingsGFCFNet Capital TransfersDepositsLoansInsurance, Pensions and Shares
Show Table: 14.6 Saving and Investment of Households

Interactive table: StatBank link  

Household saving peaked at €13.2bn in 2009 and has since fallen back to €4.4bn in 2014. How households have been using their savings is illustrated in Indicator 14.6. The line graph is the trend in actual gross household saving while the bar chart illustrates transactions in investment and borrowing by households.

During the entire period there is a clear link between transactions in loans liabilities and transactions in gross capital formation (GFCF) of households. The transactions in loans relate predominantly to borrowing to fund investment in property while the capital formation relates to the property investments themselves.

Since 2009 households have not been borrowing, in net terms. At the same time investment in property has fallen to levels that can be financed by the saving of the sector without having recourse to borrowing. In fact the gross capital formation of households fell from a high of €25.9bn in 2006 to €5.4bn in 2012 but rose to €6.3bn in 2014. Repayment of loans, or deleveraging, amounting to €4.6bn continued to be a major use of household saving in 2014. The use of household saving to fund transactions in investment assets such as deposits and insurance and pensions is also apparent in the graph.

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