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Balance of payments

The balance of payments records all economic transactions between residents and non-residents within a given time period and thus shows a country’s complex external trade links with the rest of the world.

Data sources

The collection of the data required to draw up the balance of payments does not follow a standardised procedure, but instead is organised pragmatically in Germany as a modular system. External sector reporting is the core component, which as a general rule requires all resident banks, enterprises, households and public authorities participating in external transactions to report their transactions with non-residents. The legal basis is provided by section 11 (2) of the Foreign Trade and Payments Act (Außenwirtschaftsgesetz) together with section 67 et seq of the Foreign Trade and Payments Regulation (Außenwirtschaftsverordnung).

Data from other sources are used as supplementary components, the most significant of which are

  • Foreign trade statistics from the Federal Statistics Office
  • Household survey on travel expenses abroad
  • External position of banks and non-banks and foreign direct investment stock statistics
  • Deutsche Bundesbank’s internal accounting
  • Other national and international statistics for reconciliation and as a basis for estimates

Additional information

Note: Revisions to Statistical Supplement 3 "Balance of payments statistics", June 2018

As part of the regular revisions to the quarterly international investment position, new data from secondary sources have been included which have led to revisions to the balance of payments statistics. These are in particular BIS data on deposits of German non-banks at banks abroad and data on German external liabilities arising from euro banknote issuance.


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