The debt owed from abroad to Estonian residents is growing
- The surplus on the current account of the balance of payments was 445 million euros in 2018, or 1.7% of GDP. This was supported by the surplus in the export and import account for services and income transfers to Estonian private individuals from other countries. The capital account was in surplus by 309 million euros.
- The net outflow1 from the financial account was 846 million euros as a result of the surpluses on the current and capital accounts. This was seen most in the investments in foreign securities of pension funds and the general government and an increase in the reserve assets of Eesti Pank.
- The international investment position showed that investments of Estonian residents increased during the year by 578 million euros more than foreign investment in Estonia did, because of foreign balance of payments transactions and price and exchange rate changes.
- The debt assets of Estonian residents increased by 937 million euros more over the year than their debt liabilities did. The net foreign debt owed to Estonian residents grew to 18% of GDP.
The current account of the Estonian balance of payments was 445 million euros in surplus in 2018, which was 41% less than a year previously. The surplus on the services account stood at 1.9 billion euros, which was more or less the same as in 2017, and was once again based on exports of maritime passenger transport services, construction services, computer services and other business services. The goods deficit increased by 19% over the year to 972 million euros. The deficit came from increased imports of metal and metal products and mineral products including fuels. The net outflow of investment income was the same as in the previous year. The surplus on the capital account was 309 million euros, which was 34% more than in 2016. This was because of increased investment subsidies from the European Union.
The net total of the current and capital accounts, or net lending (+) or borrowing (-), saw a surplus of 754 million euros in 2018. This meant that the Estonian economy remained a net lender to other countries, so the country as a whole invested more financial assets abroad than it received from there.
The financial account of the balance of payments shows that investment abroad from Estonia was 846 million euros larger than investment in Estonia from abroad. The net capital outflow was primarily a consequence of investments in foreign securities by pension funds and the general government and an increase in the reserve assets of Eesti Pank. Pension funds had mainly invested in equity and debt securities in 2017, but in 2018 they invested in investment fund units. The general government invested throughout the year in the long-term debt securities of foreign credit institutions and governments. The net outflow of investment through the banking system, which means credit institutions and Eesti Pank, was 808 million euros. The outflow occurred through growth in resident deposits, which allowed the banks to reduce their foreign liabilities. The growth in resident deposits came from the surplus on the current account, as exports and income transfers led more money to flow to companies and private individuals, which they deposited in banks operating in Estonia. The inflow of direct investment income again exceeded the outflow. The inflow of investment increased because of intra-group loans to non-financial companies.
The net international investment position at the end of the 2018 showed that the external liabilities of Estonian residents exceeded their external assets by 6.9 billion euros, or 27% of GDP. During the year the investment position moved in the direction of net balance by 538 million euros.
Statistics for the external debt show that at the end of the year, the debt claims of Estonian residents on non-residents were 4.6 billion euros, or 18% of GDP, larger than their debt liabilities. Both debt assets and debt liabilities increased during the year.
For more detail on the financial account, the international investment position and the external debt see the external sector statistics.
1 Net flow is inflow minus outflow. If the inflow exceeds the outflow, there is a net inflow, if the outflow exceeds the inflow there is a net outflow.
Eesti Pank will release the preliminary statistics for the balance of payments, the international investment position and the external debt for the first quarter of 2019 together with an economic policy and statistical comment on 11 June 2019 at 08.00.
Eesti Pank accompanies the release of statistics on the balance of payments, the international investment position and the external debt with a separate statistical release and an economic policy explanation.
The statistical release on the balance of payments describes the main changes in the balance of payments, the international investment position and the external debt. The release is independent of economic policy releases and is presented separately from them.
Eesti Pank Statistics Department
Email: andres.lauba [at] eestipank.ee