According to STATEC and the Banque centrale du Luxembourg (BCL), Luxembourg's balance of payments in the first three quarters of 2020 saw a surplus of €788 million.
Between January and September 2020, the current account balance showed a surplus of €788 million. The balance of transactions in goods fell by €92 million (down 4%). The decline in net exports from international trade (down €160 million) was only partially absorbed by the increase in the general merchandise balance (up €68 million). Both exports and imports of goods fell significantly during the first three quarters of 2020, down 12% and 13% respectively. This development is linked to the slowdown or even the shutdown of certain branches of the economy (and neighbouring economies) following the various restrictive measures put in place by the authorities in the context of the COVID-19 health crisis, especially in the second quarter of 2020.
International trade in services fell 4.6% during the first three quarters of 2020, corresponding to a drop of around €3.4 billion for exports and €2.7 billion for imports. The service surplus fell by €722 million (down 4.5%). Unlike previous (financial) crises, financial services were only slightly impacted by the health crisis and even posted growth rates of 2.2% for exports and 3.9% for imports during the period under review. Trade in non-financial services suffered a similar decline to that in goods (down by around 12%). The services most affected were travel services, other business services and personal, cultural and recreational services.
In terms of secondary income, the increase in expenditure (debit) is to be seen in relation to the allowances paid to cross-border workers during confinement (partial unemployment, family leave, etc.).
In the financial account, over the first three quarters of 2020, direct investment flows remained characterised by divestment operations both for assets (down €105 billion ) and for commitments (down €109 billion). These operations concerned a few SOPARFIs, which continued to restructure, terminate or relocate their activities.
Regarding portfolio investments, the second and third quarters of 2020 were characterised by the resumption of investments in Luxembourg equities (mostly UCI units), after the net sales observed in the first quarter of the year, in a context of falling stock market prices following the COVID-19 pandemic. Transactions in Luxembourg equities thus ended up with net inflows of €142 billion over the first three quarters of 2020. Luxembourg debt securities, on the other hand, suffered net sales of €22 billion over the first three quarters. Transactions in foreign equity securities resulted in low net purchases in favour of foreign debt securities, which underwent significant net purchases, amounting to €103 billion during this period.