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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€million
Item2012 2013
Current Account  
Merchandise 96,97654,571 91,76355,580
  of which: Merchanting (net export)5,261- 3,751-
Services85,52792,504 92,29292,113
 Repairs and Processing1,3221,167 1,406726
 Transport4,6091,675 4,3961,640
 Tourism and travel3,0224,609 3,3704,669
 Insurance8,9866,516 9,0215,922
 Financial services7,7325,077 8,1575,172
 Royalties/Licences3,87933,847 4,14035,796
 Communications5691,076 5911,076
 Computer services36,150349 38,956346
 Business services17,75037,967 20,57536,550
    Research and development7667,094 1,0605,181
    Operational leasing7,5371,434 7,4971,393
    Misc. business services9,44529,438 12,01829,976
 Other services n.e.s.1,511214 1,681217
Primary Income58,41688,726 56,28282,546
 Compensation of Employees541743 544706
 Investment Income56,24287,566 54,28781,411
    Direct investment income17,79143,299 17,88340,395
       Income on equity14,09238,742 14,39534,901
           Dividends & distributed branch profits3,17817,882 3,85717,106
           Reinvested earnings10,91520,859 10,53817,794
        Income on debt3,6974,556 3,4885,494
    Portfolio investment income24,93631,809 26,04431,092
        Income on equity6,36418,748 6,92020,046
        Income on debt18,57013,061 19,12511,048
    Other investment income13,51712,457 10,3589,925
 Other primary income1,632416 1,451427
Secondary Income3,9186,336 3,2465,708
Current Account - Total244,839242,137 243,582235,948
Current Account Balance2,702 7,633
Capital Account Balance86 100
Memorandum Item: Government income1154,621 1414,644
Source: CSO     

Interactive table: StatBank link

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 2013 the current account surplus was €7.6bn, the largest surplus in the series. The driver of this was the net surplus of €36.2bn in Merchandise which is reduced by profit and interest outflows of €26.3bn. The balance on Services in 2013 was €0.2bn.

The main categories of services exports are Computer services (€39bn) and Business services (€20.6bn), while for Service imports the largest categories are business services (€36.6bn) and Royalties/Licences (€35.8bn).

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This map is © Ordnance Survey Ireland. All rights reserved. License number 01/05/001.
14.2 Exports of Merchandise and Services 2013

Interactive table: StatBank link


14.2 shows the exports of merchandise and services by partner country in 2013.

In 2013 total exports of merchandise and services amounted to €184.1bn. The top 5 countries accounted for 52% of exports. The largest partner country for exports was United Kingdom (€31.6bn). Exports to United States were €26.8bn, Germany €14.4bn, Belgium €13.7bn and France €9.9bn.

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This map is © Ordnance Survey Ireland. All rights reserved. License number 01/05/001.
14.3 Imports of Merchandise and Services 2013

Interactive table: StatBank link


14.3 shows the imports of merchandise and services by partner country in 2013.

In 2013 total imports of merchandise and services amounted to €147.7bn. The top 5 countries accounted for 60% of imports. The largest partner country for imports was United Kingdom (€32.1bn). Imports from United States were €26.8bn, Netherlands €18.0bn, Germany €7.3bn and France €4.3bn.

14.4 International Investment Position - detailed data €million
Foreign assets 
   Direct investment abroad 121,381205,008254,538255,670288,026364,643
       Equity capital and reinvested earnings 99,970175,617218,098213,766241,282290,092
       Other capital21,41129,39136,44041,90546,74474,552
   Portfolio investment 1,264,4281,352,5971,458,2891,432,2391,588,9821,702,435
       Equity 307,394374,723456,346435,197503,819602,270
       Debt instruments957,035977,8741,001,943997,0421,085,1641,100,166
         Bonds and notes741,011761,356721,791721,059802,296819,622
         Money market instruments216,024216,518280,152275,983282,868280,544
   Other investment 896,847864,391941,4521,010,251939,853890,241
      Loans, currency and deposits785,425736,198781,046820,585745,629688,938
       Trade credits25,61229,35432,57936,85840,13440,625
       Other assets 85,81198,839127,827152,806154,089160,678
   Reserve assets7461,4961,5871,3161,2941,187
      Monetary gold120148204235244168
       Special drawing rights77819830754748727
       Reserve position in the IMF111170178307301289
       Foreign exchange4383593752013
Total foreign assets2,283,4022,423,4922,655,8662,699,4762,818,1552,958,506
Foreign liabilities      
   Direct investment in Ireland 135,295173,610213,722224,511257,513273,871
       Equity capital and reinvested earnings 182,413221,515233,252228,993257,148271,806
       Other capital-47,118-47,905-19,530-4,4833652,065
   Portfolio investment 1,280,7071,464,6101,668,1521,727,8261,905,5212,056,161
       Debt instruments 641,817646,665614,239582,428571,651547,409
         Bonds and notes589,873#589,365567,807553,044536,585
         Money market instruments51,944#24,87414,62118,60710,824
   Other investment 1,003,675935,264913,052929,525838,696800,618
       Loans, currency and deposits843,952761,601708,499695,522601,411567,369
       Trade credits26,16215,25217,35019,79116,50013,667
       Other liabilities133,560158,412187,203214,213220,786219,583
Total foreign liabilities2,419,6772,573,4842,794,9262,881,8623,001,7303,130,650
Source: CSO 

Interactive table: StatBank link


At the end of 2013 Ireland’s stock of foreign financial assets amounted to €2,958.5bn. The corresponding stock of foreign financial liabilities was €3,130.7bn. This resulted in a net liability of €172.1bn.


14.5 Irish Private Sector Credit and Deposits, end of year     €million
Credit Advanced to Irish Private sector 393,639374,833334,598323,582302,164278,266
   1. Households144,576140,084130,089110,288111,076107,660
       1.1 Loans for house purchase114,978110,21099,57880,39684,97383,322
       1.2 Consumer credit21,72323,80218,99916,61714,20612,933
       1.3 Other loans7,8756,07211,51213,27511,89711,405
   2. Non-financial corporations166,798146,54792,79188,34484,33079,648
       2.1 Loans164,952145,44892,66088,18584,20479,526
       2.2 Securities1,8461,099131159126122
   3. Insurance corporations and pension funds/Other financial intermediaries82,26588,202111,718124,950106,75890,958
       3.1 Loans48,59143,07238,55942,16338,90730,738
       3.2 Securities33,67445,13073,15982,78767,85160,220
Loans to Irish Private sector (securitised)33,82542,67138,96052,01543,54340,151
   1. Households33,82537,73737,05050,94442,69640,149
       1.1 Loans for house purchase33,82537,73736,22850,17241,77139,263
       1.2 Consumer credit00822772925886
   2. Non-financial corporations04,9341,9101,0718472
       2.1 Loans04,9341,9101,0718472
Total credit advanced to Irish Private sector (incl. Securitised Loans)427,464417,504373,558375,597345,707318,417
   1. Households178,401177,821167,139161,232153,772147,809
   2. Non-financial corporations166,798151,48194,70189,41585,17779,650
   3. Insurance corporations and pension funds/Other financial intermediaries82,26588,202111,718124,950106,75890,958
Deposits of Irish Private Sector 176,207183,761168,299162,584166,474180,928
   4. Households85,24799,14894,62091,31492,39191,182
   5. Non-financial corporations43,15740,61333,53730,87030,88833,933
   6. Insurance corporations and pension funds/Other financial intermediaries47,80344,00040,14240,40043,19555,813
Credit Card Statistics      
Number of credit cards in issue (000)2,3812,3332,2282,1432,0552,001
Outstanding indebtedness on credit cards (€m)3,1293,1062,9112,7892,6202,406
Source: Central Bank of Ireland      

14.5 shows the outstanding amount of credit extended by credit institutions resident in Ireland to Irish private sector residents. The amount of securitized loans is also presented in this table to show the complete private sector liability to Irish banks. 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.

The amount owed by households to Irish banks decreased by €6.0bn in 2013. This reflects the continued trend in recent years where households are primarily no longer borrowing but repaying existing loans. Deposits held by households fell by €1.2bn in 2013 and indebtedness on the 2 million credit cards in issue decreased to €2.4bn in the same period.

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Gross SavingsGFCFNet Capital TransfersDepositsLoansInsurance, Pensions and Shares
14.6 - Saving and Investment of Households

Interactive table: StatBank link


Household saving peaked at €15.3bn in 2009 and has since fallen back to €8.8bn in 2012.  How households have been using their saving is illustrated in 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 €25.6bn in 2006 to €4.5bn in 2012. Repayment of loans, or deleveraging, amounting to €7.3bn continued to be a major use of household saving in 2012. 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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