Estonia’s foreign trade continued to grow strongly in 2017

  • The surplus on the current account of the Estonian balance of payments reached a new record level in 2017
  • Exports and imports of both goods and services increased last year, with services exports doing so fastest of all
  • Estonia is one of the bigger recipients of direct investment from abroad among the newer members of the European Union

The surplus on the current account of the Estonian balance of payments in 2017 of 751 million euros or 3.2% of GDP was the largest recorded since independence was regained. Exports and imports of goods and services grew even faster than in the previous year. Imports of goods were larger in volume than exports, and so the deficit on the goods account widened a little to 0.8 billion euros. The strong growth in exports of services lifted the surplus on the services account to 1.9 billion euros.

Estonia was again a net lender to the rest of the world in 2017 for the ninth year in a row, as outflows of capital exceeded inflows by around one billion euros. Capital mainly flowed out through portfolio investment as the central bank continued to invest in debt securities as part of the asset purchase programme of the central banks of the euro area, and the outflow was increased further by investments by pension funds in equity securities and debt securities.

The amount of foreign direct investment in Estonia since independence was regained was practically the same at the end of 2017 as the GDP of that year. Estonia is in second place among the new European Union member states from Central and Eastern Europe for this indicator, behind only Hungary, where direct investment is more than twice as large as GDP. Foreign direct investors have invested markedly less in the other Baltic states, as direct investment in Latvia was 59% of GDP and in Lithuania it was 41%. Foreign investors in Estonia have moved most into financial and insurance activities and real estate activities. The countries from which the most direct investment into Estonia has come are Sweden and Finland.

 

For more, see The Estonian Balance of Payments Yearbook 2017[1].

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 net 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 fourth 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 18th time.


[1] The English version of the balance of payments yearbook for 2017 will be published on the Eesti Pank website on 5 October 2018.