Estonia ran a current account surplus of €99 million or approximately two percent of the GDP of the period in the first quarter of 2017, marking the first time since 1993 that a surplus has been recorded in the first quarter.
The balance was more positive than usual primarily due to rapid and quite broad-based growth in services exports and an unusually small net outflow of income, the Bank of Estonia said.
According to Bank of Estonia economist Kristo Aab, Estonia's trading partners are doing well and so the demand for Estonian goods and services has increased. "Sectors such as transport services and oil production that had previously been a drag on export growth are either approaching the bottom or have already reached it and are now starting to grow again," he explained. "On the income side, the ouflow of investment income was reduced primarily in the banking sector, but an important role was also played by one-off factors such as fines paid to the Estonian state."
In the first quarter, new direct investments of €188 million were made into the equity capital of foreign-owned companies, which is double the average of the past five years. At the same time, earlier direct investment was reduced by €177 million, meaning that the net sum was a modest inflow of new money into the country. Overall, the total amount of diret investment in Estonia still declined, as more was paid back in debt liabilities to investors than was received as new investments. Estonia's direct investments abroad increased slightly, also at the expense of debt investments, Aab said.
Estonian assets abroad grew more in the first quarter overall than external liabilities, making Estonia a net lender. The net international investment position, which is the difference between external assets and external liabilities, continued to improve and reached -36 percent of GDP. This means Estonia is very close to the minimum set by the European Commission of -35 percent.
Editor: Aili Vahtla