The Banque Centrale du Luxembourg (BCL) and STATEC, Luxembourg's national statistics office, have announced that, according to initial provisional results, the state's current account ended with a surplus of €2.75 billion in 2020, i.e. a decrease of around 5% compared to 2019 (-€150 million).
While net international trading exports (purchase and resale of goods abroad without physically crossing the national border) increased slightly by 1.3% in 2020, general merchandise exports and imports fell by 14.5% and 10.9% respectively. All categories of goods fell in 2020, but these are mainly fuel-related (purchase of kerosene by resident / non-resident airlines abroad / in Luxembourg), mineral fuels (imports), manufactured items, machinery, equipment and transport equipment that posted the most significant falls.
International trade in services also contracted in 2020, by 4.2% for exports and 5.1% for imports. Only financial services (+ 2.4% for exports and + 1.8% for imports), benefiting from a rapid recovery in financial markets after their collapse in March 2020, and exports of transport services (boosted by sustained air freight activity) defied the general downward trend in services in 2020. The trade in non-financial services most affected by the crisis in 2020 were travel, personal, cultural and recreational, manufacturing as well as some business services.
In the financial account, during the year 2020, direct investment flows remained characterised by divestment operations both for assets (-€175 billion) and for commitments (-€155 billion). These operations concerned a few SOPARFIs which continued their operations to restructure, terminate or relocate their activities.
Regarding portfolio investments, the last three quarters of 2020 were characterised by the resumption of investments in Luxembourg equities (mostly UCI units), after net sales observed in the first quarter of 2020, in a context of falling stock prices following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Transactions in Luxembourg shares thus resulted in net inflows of €205 billion in 2020, compared to €231 billion in 2019. Luxembourg debt securities, on the other hand, suffered net sales of €65 billion in 2020, against €19 billion in 2019. Transactions in foreign equity securities resulted in net purchases of €68 billion in 2020, compared to net sales of €9 billion in 2019. For their part, foreign debt securities have undergone significant net purchases, amounting to €115 billion in 2020.