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Balance of International Payments

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Current account surplus of €178m in Quarter 4 2018

Table 1.1 Balance of International Payments€ million
 Merchandise BalanceServices and Income BalanceCurrent Account BalanceCurrent Account Balance as % of GDP
Q4 201827,262-27,0841780.2
Q4 201730,147-20,7369,41111.9
Q1-Q4 2018109,695-80,70028,9969.1
Q1-Q4 2017107,639-82,71324,9248.5

The Balance of Payments current account, a measure of Ireland’s economic flows with the rest of the world, showed a small surplus in the fourth quarter of 2018, at €178m, mainly due to higher imports of intellectual property. The current account balance for the year 2018, at €29bn, is up €4bn on the balance in year 2017 of €25bn (see Table 1.2).

X-axis labelCurrent Account
Q1 20161.06318090912632
Q2 2016-7.1128111697673
Q3 2016-1.79400283538553
Q4 2016-8.43679431962108
Q1 20177.41879100789745
Q2 2017-4.79270637603034
Q3 201717.6914147089169
Q4 201711.873009170544
Q1 201812.3415854034528
Q2 201813.3594368322988
Q3 201811.1814347323132
Q4 20180.214055260758007
X-axis labelMerchandiseServicesPrimary IncomeSecondary IncomeBalance on Current account
Q1 201627.29-14.564-11.001-1.020.705
Q2 201624.44-16.885-11.342-0.768-4.555
Q3 201626.315-12.294-14.425-0.82-1.224
Q4 201628.043-19.992-13.144-1.205-6.299
Q1 201725.032-5.356-13.684-0.9365.056
Q2 201723.545-9.642-15.647-1.558-3.303
Q3 201728.9150.681-14.829-1.00613.76
Q4 201730.147-4.034-15.613-1.0899.411
Q1 201827.078-1.25-14.971-1.3069.552
Q2 201828.977-1.97-15.429-1.41610.162
Q3 201826.3780.61-16.696-1.1889.104
Q4 201827.262-7.632-18.279-1.1730.178

Other points of note in the Quarter 4 2018 results are:

Current account (see Table 1.3)

  • Merchandise exports were €56,066m in the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of €3,395m compared with the fourth quarter of 2017. Merchandise imports were €28,804m in the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of €6,281m compared with the same period in 2017.

  • Service exports at €49,484m increased by €5,756m compared to the fourth quarter of 2017, mainly due to higher computer services exports.

  • Service imports at €57,116m were up €9,354m over the same period in 2017. These figures were largely affected by increased payments for R&D services, mainly intellectual property.

  • Ireland’s Trade Balance at €19,630m, all goods and services exports less all goods and services imports, decreased by €6,484m in the fourth quarter of 2018, over the same period in 2017.

  • Investment income earned abroad at €17,816m, decreased by €2,103m compared with one year earlier while investment income payable to foreign investors at €36,441m increased by €607m. The overall Income balance for the quarter at -€19,452m was €2,750m lower than the same period in 2017.

X-axis labelDirect InvestmentPortfolio InvestmentOther InvestmentReserve AssetsBalance on Financial Account
Q1 201612.279-7.4971.421.0957.297
Q2 2016-0.2932.933-14.069-0.224-11.653
Q3 2016-10.52210.385-7.6620.379-7.42
Q4 2016-9.89421.89-8.7620.2063.441
Q1 2017-4.669-13.224-1.406-0.101-19.4
Q2 20174.186-45.6237.4820.163-3.789
Q3 20174.0690.5986.7730.23511.675
Q4 2017-37.1672.93150.3270.10216.192
Q1 201826.3397.45-20.09-0.02213.677
Q2 201810.209-29.44533.7810.00514.55
Q3 201810.96-2.861.0020.2099.311
Q4 201819.94313.921-46.1820.578-11.74

Financial account (see Tables 1.4 and 1.5)

  • Direct investment in Ireland increased by €19,711m in the fourth quarter of 2018. This change was driven by increases in equity of €8,997m and other capital of €12,516m.  Direct investment abroad increased by €39,653m in the quarter, mainly due to increased equity investment of €62,081m.

  • Portfolio investment in foreign assets increased by €13,183m in the quarter. Investment in foreign equity decreased by €4,195m while investment in foreign debt instruments increased by €17,378m. Portfolio investment in Ireland decreased by €738m, where a fall in Irish debt instruments of €2,349m were partially offset by increased Irish equity of €1,611m.

  • Other investment assets decreased by €31,119m while Other investment liabilities increased by €15,062m in the fourth quarter of 2018, both mainly due to the activity of IFSC enterprises.

Show Table: Table 1.2 Summary of Current, Capital, Financial Account Balances

Show Table: Table 1.3 Current and Capital Accounts

Show Table: Table 1.4 Financial Account

Show Table: Table 1.5 Current, Capital and Financial Account showing IFSC and non-IFSC activity

Show Table: Table 1.6 Current and Capital Accounts showing geographical detail

Show Table: Table 1.7 Financial Account showing geographical detail

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