Balance of payments of Luxembourg during the first quarter of 2019
The Central Bank of Luxembourg (BCL) and STATEC inform that, according to preliminary results, the current account for the first quarter of 2019 resulted in a surplus of 725 million euros, a decrease of 1644 million compared to the same period of the previous year.
The trade deficit (general merchandise) increased only slightly (by 25 million euros or 1.6%) in the first quarter of 2019. The reduction of the goods deficit (333 million euros) is due to net exports of merchanting (purchases and sales of goods abroad without LU border crossing), which increased by around 47%. However, caution should be exercised when interpreting these still tentative figures, as the merchanting activity is volatile, dominated by a small number of large multinationals and impacted by transfer pricing effects (billing between companies belonging to the same group). The surplus of international trade in services rose by nearly 9% in the first quarter of 2019 (+482 million euro), driven by non-financial services. Above all, exports of professional services, management consulting and audiovisual services from a few large multinationals have increased significantly. Exports and imports of financial services, meanwhile, are almost stagnating, and their balance only shows a slight increase of 0.6%. This evolution is mainly due to a small increase in average assets managed by investment funds during the period under review (2.1%). Since most partial balances (goods, services, secondary income) were rising, the decline in the current account was linked to primary income, and more specifically to direct and portfolio investment, whose deficits increased by 38% and 6% respectively in the first quarter of 2019.
In the financial account, direct investment flows resumed in the first quarter of 2019, for both assets (55 billion euros) and liabilities (54 billion euros), after the divestments observed throughout 2018. Regarding portfolio investment, non-resident investments in securities issued by Luxembourg (largely Investments Funds shares) widely decreased, reaching 19 billion euros in the first quarter of 2019, compared to net inflows of 84 billion euros in same quarter of 2018. With regard to foreign securities, residents also decreased their investments in the first quarter of 2019, which totaled 41 billion euros compared to 97 billion in in same quarter of 2018. Portfolio investment flows resulted in net outflows of 19 billion euros in the first quarter of 2019, offset entirely by the net inflows in other investments (deposits and traditional credits).