29 Jan
international trade

International trade: EU surplus up to over €186 bn in 2018

International trade in services: EU surplus up to over €186 bn in 2018 The USA continued to be the main partner for both exports and imports

The European Union (EU) surplus in trade in services, which fell between 2013 and 2016, increased to €154.0 bn in 2017, then to €186.3 bn in 2018.

This is the result of EU exports of services to the rest of the world rising by 3%, from €933.4 bn in 2017 to €961.0 bn in 2018, while EU imports decreased by 0.6%, from €779.5 bn to €774.7 bn. These data, issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, are subject to revision.

EU has largest surplus with EFTA countries In 2018, the main partners for EU exports of services remained the United States (€257.4 billion, or 27% of total EU exports) and the four EFTA countries together (€152.4 bn, 16%), well ahead of China (€51.8 bn, 5%), Japan (€36.3 bn, 4%) and Singapore (€34.5 bn, also 4%).

The main partner for EU imports of services also continued to be the United States (€236.4 bn, 31% of total EU imports), followed by the EFTA countries (€90.7 bn, 12%), ahead of China (€31.9 bn, 4%), Singapore (€26.3 bn, 3%), India (€21.4 bn, 3%) and Japan (€21.0 bn, 3%). The EU recorded surpluses with almost all its main partners in 2018, except India (-€4.1 bn), Turkey (-€2.0 bn) and Hong Kong (-€0.3 bn).

Among the main partners, the largest surplus was observed in trade with the EFTA countries (+€61.6 bn), ahead of the United States (+€21.0 bn), China (+€20.0 bn), Russia (+€16.0 bn) and Japan (+€15.2 bn).

Comparison with 2017

Compared with 2017, the EU deficit turned into a surplus with the other countries (from -€1.9 bn in 2017 to +€19.0 bn in 2018) and a significant increase in the EU surplus can be noted with the Unites States (from +€14.6 bn in 2017 to +€21.0 bn in 2018) and China (from +€14.9 bn in 2017 to +€20.0 bn in 2018).

The surplus remained stable at €61.6 bn with EFTA countries. In contrast, the EU surplus fell with Russia (from +€17.4 bn in 2017 to +€16.0 bn in 2018) and Hong Kong (from +€1.0 bn in 2017 to -€0.3 bn in 2018), and the deficit increased with India (from -€3.1 bn in 2017 to -€4.1 bn in 2018) and Turkey (from -€1.5 bn in 2017 to -€2.0 bn in 2018).

ICT services

The main components of EU exports of services were “other business services” (R&D, business, professional & technical services) which accounted for over a quarter of EU total exports (27%) in 2018, followed by transport (17%) and travel (15%), ICT services (14%), financial services (9%) and charges for the use of intellectual property (8%).

“Other business services” were also the largest category of services imported by the EU (30% of EU imports), ahead of transport (18%), charges for the use of intellectual property (16%) and travel (15%).

In 2018, ICT services remained the largest contributor to the EU surplus (+€81.7 bn), ahead of financial services (+€38.2 bn), transport (+€27.8 bn), and travel (+€27.5 bn). In contrast, a deficit was recorded for charges for the use of intellectual property (-€46.9 bn), and personal, cultural and recreational services ((-€0.7 bn).

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