Australian Bureau of Statistics
5362.0.55.001 - A Guide to Australian Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Statistics, 2001
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/03/2001
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BOP and IIP data, and metadata (which is textual information about the data), is found in the following publications and electronic data sources:
Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia, Quarterly (ABS Cat. no. 5302.0)
This quarterly publication is released about two months after the reference quarter. It provides both summary and detailed balance of payments, international investment and related statistics. A copy of the June quarter 2000 issue is provided so that users can see the detail published.
Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia, Annual (ABS Cat. no. 5363.0)
This annual publication is released 11 months after the reference year. It contains annual data, mostly in the same detail as in the quarterly (a few tables have further classification detail), and shows most of the BOP current account tables and the main IIP transactions split by partner country. A copy of the 1998-99 issue is provided so that users can see the detail published.
Balance of Payments, Australia - Regional Series, Annual (ABS Cat. no. 5338.0)
This annual publication (in spreadsheets) is released about 10 months after the reference year. It contains additional detail, beyond that published in 5363.0, on annual BOP data for many countries and country groups.
International Investment Position, Australia, Supplementary Country Statistics Annual (ABS Cat. no. 5352.0)
This annual publication (in spreadsheets) is released about 12 months after the reference year. It contains additional detail, beyond that published in 5363.0, on annual IIP transactions, levels and income data for many countries and country groups.
Balance of Payments, Australia: Quarterly Forward Seasonal Factors Service (ABS Cat. no. 5361.0)
This is a spreadsheet released annually in August. It provides seasonal adjustment factors for the historical data and, for the next four quarters, the forward factors which will be used in compiling seasonally adjusted estimates for the current account series in ABS Cat. no. 5302.0.
International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, Monthly (ABS Cat. no. 5368.0)
This monthly publication is released about 4 weeks after the end of the reference month. It contains summary information on the goods and services items of the balance of payments. A copy of the June monthly 2000 issue is provided so that users can see the detail published.
International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia: Monthly Forward Seasonal Factors (ABS Cat. no. 5369.0.40.001)
This is a spreadsheet released annually in August. It provides seasonal adjustment factors for the historical data and, for the next twelve months, the forward factors which will be used in compiling seasonally adjusted estimates included in ABS Cat. no. 5368.0.
Australian Economic Indicators (ABS Cat. no. 1350.0)
Published monthly. This provides summary balance of payments and international investment statistics, and the monthly international trade in goods and services, together with a wide range of national and international economic indicators, including a experimental composite leading indicator. The BOP and IIP statistics are as reported in the most recent edition of ABS Cat. no. 5302.0, and the international trade in goods and services as in the most recent edition of ABS Cat. no. 5368.0.
Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia : Concepts, Sources and Methods (ABS Cat. no. 5331.0)
This edition, released in 1998, provides a detailed explanation of the concepts, sources and methods used to compile Australian balance of payments and international investment position statistics.
International Statistical Standards
Australia's balance of payments and international investment position statistics are compiled in accordance with the recommendations in the International Monetary Fund's fifth edition (1993) of the Balance of Payments Manual (BPM5). These standards are consistent with those in the 1993 edition of A System of National Accounts (SNA93), published by the United Nations Statistical Division and other international agencies.
This is an electronic service provided by ABS, containing tens of thousands of monthly and quarterly time series and other data, accessible through the ABS website. The monthly international trade in goods and services, and the quarterly and annual BOP and IIP data are included. The service is only available to pre-paid subscribers - contact Information Services on 1300 135 070.
A copy of the main features of most ABS publications, including the main features of the BOP and IIP publications above, is available for free on the ABS website at the same time as the respective publication is released. At the ABS homepage, click on Statistics, then on Selected Main Features, then on the catalogue number of the desired publication.
A range of unpublished data is also available upon request. Details of what is available and charges for these services can be obtained by contacting Consultancy Services on 02 6252 6627.
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DEFINITIONS AND CONCEPTS
Residents of Australia are economic entities (persons, organisations or enterprises) which have a closer association with the territory of Australia than with any other territory. Any economic entity which is not regarded as a resident of Australia is described as a non-resident.
Resident entities include:
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
The Balance of Payments (BoP) is a statistical statement which systematically records economic transactions between residents of Australia and non-residents (ie residents of other countries). It tells us what we buy from and sell to the rest of the world, and what we earn (and pay) for the labour and financial capital that is provided across our borders, as well as measuring those financial flows.
Balance of Payments transactions occur when resources, real or financial, are provided by/to Australia to/from the rest of the world.
For Balance of Payments accounting, therefore:
INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT POSITION
The International Investment Position (IIP) is the balance sheet recording Australia's stock (also called level, or position) of foreign financial assets and liabilities at a particular date. The IIP tells us what debts Australia owes to the rest of the world, what equity investment the rest of the world has in Australian businesses, and Australia's debt and equity claims on the rest of the world.
Net International Investment Position is the difference between Australia's stocks of foreign financial assets and liabilities at a particular date.
The relationship between the BOP and the IIP is shown through a reconciliation statement, which takes the IIP at the beginning of a period, adds the BOP financial account transactions during the period, and adds various non-transaction changes during the period (such as the effects of price changes and exchange rate changes) to arrive at the IIP at the end of the period.
This is a diagram representing the relationship between the financial account of the Balance of Payments and the International Investment Position statement.
DOUBLE-ENTRY RECORDING SYSTEM
A double-entry recording system is used in compiling the balance of payments statistics. This means that for each credit entry there is an off-setting debit entry of the same value, and vice versa.
Most economic transactions have two sides: something of economic value is provided and something of equal value is received, and both flows are recorded. By convention, when Australia provides something to the rest of the world a credit entry is recorded; and when Australia receives something from the rest of the world a debit entry is recorded.
For example, when an exporter sells (provides) goods to a non-resident, the exporter may receive cash (a financial asset) in return. The export is represented by a credit entry and the financial asset received by the non-resident is represented by a debit entry.
Where a real resource (good or service) or financial item is provided without something of economic value being received in exchange (that is, without a quid pro quo), the double entry system requires an offset to be imputed (called a transfer entry) of equivalent value. For example, food exported as aid is reported as a credit entry in exports, and because there will be no payment for the food aid, an imputed debit current transfer is created as the offset.
Examples of the double-entry recording system are shown here.
Under the double-entry recording system, the sum of all credit and debit entries must in theory be zero. In practice, some transactions are not measured accurately (errors) and some are not measured at all (omissions). To restore the equality of credit and debit entries, a net errors and omissions item is included in the balance of payments. During any given period, the net effect of errors and omissions can be either positive or negative.
SIGN CONVENTION USED FOR BOP STATISTICS
The sign convention used in presenting balance of payments statistics is to give no sign (an implied positive sign) to credit entries, and a minus sign to debit entries. Similarly, balances or items which are net credits have no sign, while balances or items which are net debits have a negative sign. Through using this sign convention consistently, debits and credits, or assets and liabilities, need only be added to arrive at the relevant balance.
Transactions and position statistics are valued at market prices. The market price is the amount of money that a willing buyer pays to acquire something from a willing seller, when the exchange is between independent parties who are entirely motivated by commercial considerations.
However, where market price valuations are not available, the transaction price, the amount recorded in the accounts of the transactors, is considered the closest practical approximation to market price. For transaction prices between related parties such as a head office and its subsidiaries, where taxation or other considerations apply, the transaction price may not be a good approximation to market price and some adjustment may be needed.
Australian balance of payments and international investment position statistics are expressed in Australian dollars even though many transactions and assets and liabilities are denominated in foreign currencies. Transactions denominated in a foreign currency are converted to Australian currency at the market exchange rate (mid-point of the buy and sell rates) at the time the transaction occurs. Asset and liability positions data are converted at the mid-point of the buying and selling market exchange rate at the reference date.
TIME OF RECORDING OF TRANSACTIONS
The time of recording of transactions in the balance of payments statistics is, in principle, the time of change of ownership.
Change of ownership occurs when the legal ownership of goods changes, when services are rendered and when income accrues. In the case of transfers, those which are imposed by one party on another are recorded at the moment when the transactions or other flows occur that give rise to the liability to pay; other transfers are recorded at the time of the ownership change for the goods, services, etc..
For financial transactions, the time of change of ownership is when the transactions are entered in the books of the transactors.
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Goods : general merchandise is further classified by commodity.
Services : comprise services provided by Australian residents and non-residents, together with some transactions in goods where it is not practical to separate the goods and services components (eg. goods purchased by travellers are classified to services).
Income : refers to income earned by Australian residents from non-residents and vice versa.
Transfers : refer to one-sided transactions where a resource is provided without something of equal economic value being provided in return. Current transfers represent the offset to the provision of resources that are normally consumed within a short period (less than twelve months) after the transfer is made eg food aid.
CAPITAL ACCOUNT : STANDARD COMPONENTS
including data for 1999-2000 financial year (as at 30 November 2000)
Capital transfers : include the offsets to one-sided transactions of a capital nature, such as migrants transferring their wealth to Australia, or Australia providing aid to build a bridge.
Non-produced non-financial assets : include patents, copyrights, trademarks, franchises, etc.
FINANCIAL ACCOUNT : STANDARD COMPONENTS
including data for 1999-2000 financial year (as at 30 November 2000)
TYPE OF INVESTMENT
The type of investment classification used in the balance of payments financial account and the international investment position consists of five broad categories:
Direct investment is investment, undertaken by an entity resident in one economy, in an enterprise resident in another economy, with the objectives of obtaining or sustaining a lasting interest in the enterprise and exercising a significant degree of influence in its management. A 10% equity investment threshold is applied as evidence of such a direct interest. The entity undertaking the investment is referred to as the direct investor and the enterprise in which the investment takes place is referred to as the direct investment enterprise.
A direct investor may be an individual; an incorporated or unincorporated private or public enterprise; an associated group of individuals or enterprises; a government or a government agency; an estate or trust; or an international organisation which has an investment of 10 percent or more in a direct investment enterprise in an economy other than the one in which the direct investor resides.
An enterprise that has significant long-term operations in more than one economy is divided into separate entities in each economy. These entities are always in a direct investment relationship: the head office constitutes the direct investor, and its branches constitute the direct investment enterprises.
Portfolio investment consists of equity (shares) and debt securities (bonds, bills, money market instruments) not classified to either direct investment, or reserve assets. Debt securities are further subdivided into two categories: bonds and notes; and money market instruments. Portfolio investment indicates investment in an enterprise where the investor has no appreciable say in the operation of the enterprise.
Financial derivatives, such as swaps, forward rate agreements and forward foreign exchange agreements, are financial instruments that are linked to a specific financial instrument or indicator (foreign currencies, government bonds, share price indexes, interest rates), or to a particular commodity (gold, sugar, etc). They provide a hedge for market financial risk in a form that can be traded or otherwise offset in the market.
Other investment is a residual category that captures transactions not classified to direct investment, portfolio investment, financial derivatives or reserve assets. It covers trade credits, loans, currency and deposits, and a residual category for any other assets and liabilities.
Reserve assets refer to those foreign financial assets available to, and controlled by the Reserve Bank of Australia, for meeting balance of payments needs.
ASSETS AND LIABILITIES
A financial asset is generally in the form of a financial claim by Australia on the rest of the world. It is either represented by a contractual obligation (such as a loan) or is evidenced by a security (such as a share certificate). A financial liability on the other hand, represents a financial claim of the rest of the world on Australia.
Assets and liabilities in the international investment position statement are components of the balance sheet of an economy. In the financial account, the asset and liability classifications reflect, respectively, transactions in claims on non-residents (assets) and claims by non-residents (liabilities).
In the international investment position, the difference between assets and liabilities is the net international investment position, also referred to as the net liability position in Australia's case.
DIRECTION OF INVESTMENT
The direction of investment refers to whether a transaction or investment position is Australian investment abroad (AIA) or foreign investment in Australia (FIA). Total AIA and FIA are the same as foreign assets and foreign liabilities, respectively, except for an adjustment made to assets and liabilities to net off certain direct investment claims. AIA includes, on a net basis, the liabilities of Australian direct investors to their direct investment enterprises abroad but excludes the claims of Australian direct investors to direct investment enterprises abroad.
Foreign Investment in Australia is the sum of direct investment in Australia; portfolio investment liabilities; financial derivatives liabilities; and other investment liabilities.
Australian Investment Abroad is the sum of direct investment abroad; portfolio investment assets; financial derivatives assets; other investment assets; and reserve assets.
INSTRUMENT OF INVESTMENT
In the financial account of the balance of payments and in the international investment position statement, all assets and liabilities can be classified to particular instruments of investment - see the types of instruments listed in the table above called "Financial Account : Standard Components". The primary classification of instrument is by equity or by debt. All instruments can be classified under one of these headings.
Equity is that part of the issued capital of an enterprise which acknowledges a claim on the residual value of the enterprise after the claims of all other creditors have been met. It includes ordinary and participating preference shares, any reinvested earnings, and equity in unincorporated enterprises. In the table above, it can be calculated by
Equity = Direct investment equity capital and reinvested earnings + Portfolio investment equity securities
(+ any equity securities held as reserve assets, should this ever occur).
Net equity is the difference between equity assets and liabilities.
Debt is considered to be whatever is not equity. In the table above, it can be calculated by
Debt = Other direct investment capital + Portfolio debt securities + Financial derivatives + Other investment
+ Reserve assets (less any equity securities held as reserves, should this ever occur).
Some of the debt instruments are further split by whether they are short term (meaning the original maturity of the instrument was one year or less), or long term (meaning an original term to maturity of more than one year). Net debt is the difference between debt assets and liabilities.
The IIP institutional sector classification groups together entities (ie enterprises, organisations, government agencies etc) which may be expected to behave similarly in response to differing economic and political stimuli. In general, four broad sectors are distinguished in IIP statistics:
General Government: Departments of state and similar entities that are the agents or instruments of Commonwealth, State or local governments. These are resident entities whose goods and services are provided free of charge, or at nominal prices well below their cost, to other general government bodies or the public or both. It excludes government business enterprises.
Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), which is the central bank.
Depository Corporations: This is further split into Banks and Other Depository Corporations. Banks include trading, savings and development banks, which are licensed by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to operate as a bank. This category excludes the RBA. Other depository corporations cover permanent building societies, credit co-operatives, money market corporations, pastoral finance companies, general financiers, and cash management trusts.
Other Sectors: This category covers the remainder of institutions, such as non-financial corporations, insurance companies, superannuation (pension) funds, State and Territory Central Borrowing Authorities (CBAs), other financial institutions and financial auxiliaries, private non-profit institutions and households.
For a full description of the institutional sectors, see Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia (SESCA), 1998 (ABS Cat. no. 1218.0).
A subsidiary classification of entities is used when measuring foreign debt, where a distinction is used of whether the debt is owned by the public or private sectors.
Public Sector: Consists of General Government; public sector financial corporations (RBA, CBAs, etc); and public sector non-financial corporations.
Private Sector: The remainder, often split into financial and non-financial.
In the financial account and IIP statistics, data relating to transactions, levels of investment and investment income are classified by industry of the Australian business entity. The industry categories are based on the 1993 edition of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) and relate to the predominant activity of the entity giving (Australian Investment Abroad) or receiving (Foreign Investment in Australia) the investment funds.
In the published data, the following industries are identified:
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This section provides descriptions of some economic terms and analytical tools of use in the analysis of the balance of payments and international investment position statistics. In summary, these are:
The BOP monthly goods and services series and the quarterly current account series are affected by seasonal influences. It is useful to recognise them and take them into account when analysing the data. Seasonal adjustment removes the identifiable effects of normal seasonal variation so that the effects of other influences are more clearly recognised.
The term “seasonal” is used in a general sense to describe those influences that operate in a systematic and calendar-related manner, such as trading day patterns, holiday effects and seasonal patterns. The production cycle of a rural commodity like wheat, in which activities such as sowing, harvesting and subsequent export regularly take place at the same time each year, provides a good example of the type of influence which seasonal adjustment can remove.
Once the seasonal or calendar-related influences have been removed from the original data, only the “trend” and “irregular” components remain. They give the analyst a better picture of what is happening or likely to happen with the series. The “irregular” element refers to changes which are attributable to unpredictable events such as industrial disputes as well as the “lumpiness” of events occurring infrequently and irregularly (eg. imports of large ships and aircraft).
The following graph shows both original and seasonally adjusted quarterly data for imports of consumption goods for the period June 1991 to June 2000. It illustrates the difference between seasonally adjusted and original data for this component.
In cases where the removal of only the “seasonal” element from a seasonally adjusted series may not be sufficient to allow identification of changes in its trend, a statistical technique is used to dampen the irregular element. This technique, which uses a mathematical formula, is known as “smoothing” and the resulting smoothed series are known as trend series. This is shown in the following monthly goods exports (or credits) series.
CHAIN VOLUME MEASURES
The data in the balance of payments are reported at the prices prevailing at the time - these are known as current price data. The changes from period to period in the current price data for goods and services reflect the effect of changes in prices and the changes in the volume of goods and services imported or exported. Analysts need to remove the effect of the price changes so that the underlying volume changes (sometimes called "real" changes) can be seen more clearly. These series are referred to as chain volume measures.
Chain volume measures are derived by deflating the original current price series by specially compiled measures of price change. The reference year for chain volume measures is the year prior to the latest complete financial year for which data are available. For example, chain volume measures published in the June quarter 2000 issue of 5302.0 are in terms of 1998-99 dollars.
IMPLICIT PRICE DEFLATORS
An implicit price deflator (IPD) is a derived measure of price change. It is obtained by dividing a current price estimate by the corresponding chain volume measure. It is then multiplied by 100 and so has a value of 100 in the reference year. Movements in IPDs can be affected by changes in the physical composition of the aggregates and their components. As much of the quarter-to-quarter change in the physical composition of these aggregates is of a seasonal nature, IPDs derived from seasonally adjusted data are normally more reliable than those calculated from unadjusted data. Even so, seasonally adjusting the series may not completely eliminate the impact of seasonal changes in the derived IPDs. The IPDs appearing in the quarterly publication are derived from seasonally adjusted data.
CHAIN PRICE INDEXES
In addition to implicit price deflators, the ABS produces annually re-weighted chain price indexes. The chain price indexes are formed by applying current price weights for the previous year to the detailed price indexes used to derive chain volume measures and then aggregating them. The chain price indexes provide a superior measure of pure price change than the implicit price deflators.
TERMS OF TRADE
The terms of trade shows a country's export prices relative to its import prices. There are several ways of measuring the terms of trade. In the quarterly publication, the following index is used:
----------------------------------------------------- x 100
Implicit price deflator for the debit item
A rise in the index implies an improvement in a country’s terms of trade, enabling it to purchase more imports from the same amount of exports. A fall in the index implies a deterioration in a country’s terms of trade, requiring it to export more to purchase the same amount of imports. Movements in the terms of trade are used in assessing the changing purchasing power of exports over imports, analysing real income, and evaluating the level of consumption that can be sustained in the domestic economy.
The following graph shows Australia's seasonally adjusted terms of trade for the period June 1991 to June 2000.
Trend estimates of the terms of trade are also published.
In analysing an economy's balance of payments and international investment position statistics, it is often useful to relate these statistics to each other or to other economic indicators, so that account can be taken of the effects of inflation or growth in the economy. This is done through various balance of payments and international investment position ratios. These ratios enable examination of the balance of payments and international investment position within the framework of the economy as a whole.
The current account to GDP ratio expresses the balance of payments current account aggregate as a percentages of GDP, the measure of an economy's production level. A negative ratio indicates a deficit in the balance of payments.
(b) For the latest reference period, GDP(I) for the year ended with the previous quarter is used.
The net international investment position to GDP ratio is derived from net foreign liabilities at the end of the period and GDP for the year ended with that period. The following graph shows the net international investment position, and its two broad components: net foreign equity; and net foreign debt, as percentages of annual GDP.
The debt interest to income ratio is the ratio of net interest payable on net foreign debt to exports (goods and services credits) for the year ended each quarter. The ratio represents Australia's ability to earn export revenue from foreign countries with which to 'service' (or pay interest on), our net foreign debt liabilities. The following graph shows the debt to income ratio for the period June 1991 to June 2000.
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RELATIONSHIP TO THE NATIONAL ACCOUNTS
In addition to the long-standing statistics of national income, expenditure and product, the Australian System of National Accounts (ASNA) includes the financial accounts, input-output tables, balance sheet statistics (including capital stock statistics), multi-factor productivity statistics, and State accounts.
The current scope of the ASNA is best described by the list of statistical bulletins that comprise the ASNA data. These are as follows:
NATIONAL ACCOUNTS STATISTICS
The uses of the statistics included in the ASNA mainly arise from the role of the national accounts as a framework for evaluating economic performance.
A central set of accounts is related to the economic functions of production, consumption and accumulation of wealth:
The national accounts provide a comprehensive and systematic set of statistics for the Australian economy, detailing the economic transactions, the levels of assets and liabilities of the nation, and changes in those levels. Each of the above accounts includes a sub-account for international transactions or levels (ie an external account), which is derived from the BOP or IIP.
The main accounts in the external account are the:
More information can be found in Australian System of National Accounts : Concepts, Sources and Methods (ABS Cat. No. 5216.0).
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To be of benefit to users, balance of payments statistics need to be a reasonable and timely measure of the real world economic events to which they relate. In general, high quality statistics should be:
Note: There is a trade-off for many users between accuracy, revisability and detail on the one hand, and timeliness of the release of statistics on the other. Generally, with given resources, significant improvements in timeliness can only be made at the expense of detail, accuracy, or revisability.
Compilation of balance of payments statistics is a complex task and, given the variety of data sources and methods used, there is no single comprehensive measure of the quality of these estimates. To get an overall picture of the quality of these estimates, all the measures of quality listed below need to be viewed together while taking into account their limitations.
Net Errors and Omissions
The adoption of the double entry accounting system of recording means that, in principle, the sum of all credit and debit entries should be zero. In practice this rarely occurs, and any differences are recorded in the net errors and omissions item. The item reflects the net effect of differences in coverage, timing and valuation, as well as errors and omissions which occur in compiling all the individual component series. Persistently large figures in one direction (negative or positive) may be taken as an indication of serious and systematic errors.
A detailed explanation of the remaining quality measures may be found in Information Paper: Quality of Australian Balance of Payments Statistics 1996 (ABS Cat. no. 5342.0).
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The ABS gathers data from many government and private sector sources to compile balance of payments and international investment position statistics. The main sources include:
International Merchandise Trade statistics are used for the goods debits and credits series of the BOP. The merchandise trade statistics are compiled from imports and exports records submitted by traders to the Australian Customs Service. Small adjustments are made to these statistics to put them onto a balance of payments basis to reflect timing and ownership changes.
Survey of International Trade in Services is used to derive the services debits and credits. This ABS survey collects data quarterly on a wide range of services including transportation, travel, communications and construction services from enterprises which provide (or receive) these services to (or from) non-residents.
Overseas Arrivals and Departures statistics (published in Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia (ABS Cat. no. 3401.0)) are used in the derivation of estimates for travel, compensation of employees and migrant transfers. The data comes from passenger cards required to be submitted to the Department of Immigration and Multicultual Affairs by all incoming and outgoing passengers to Australia.
International Visitor Survey, conducted for the Bureau of Tourism Research, provides information on the spending by short term visitors to Australia. This is used in the derivation of estimates of travel credits.
Survey of International Investment (SII) is a quarterly ABS survey which collects information about investment activity into and out of Australia and levels of investment. It is the main source of information for the financial account of the BOP, and the IIP statement.
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Examples of Double Entry Recording in the Balance of Payments
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Relationship between the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position
Transaction changes measured in the financial account of the balance of payments are identical to the transactions measured in the International investment position statement.
The relationship between the balance of payments and international investment position statement is illustrated in the diagram below. The accounts of the balance of payments are represented vertically and the international investment position horizontally. Common to both is the financial account of the balance of payments (called simply 'transactions' when presented in the international investment position format).
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This page last updated 22 September 2008