Current account balance (BoP, current US$)
Definition: Current account balance is the sum of net exports of goods and services, net primary income, and net secondary income. Data are in current U.S. dollars.
Description: The map below shows how Current account balance (BoP, current US$) varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is China, with a value of 273,980,000,000.00. The country with the lowest value in the world is United States, with a value of -616,087,000,000.00.
Source: International Monetary Fund, Balance of Payments Statistics Yearbook and data files.
Development Relevance: The balance of payments records an economy’s transactions with the rest of the world. Balance of payments accounts are divided into two groups: the current account, which records transactions in goods, services, primary income, and secondary income, and the capital and financial account, which records capital transfers, acquisition or disposal of nonproduced, nonfinancial assets, and transactions in financial assets and liabilities. The current account balance is one of the most analytically useful indicators of an external imbalance. A primary purpose of the balance of payments accounts is to indicate the need to adjust an external imbalance. Where to draw the line for analytical purposes requires a judgment concerning the imbalance that best indicates the need for adjustment. There are a number of definitions in common use for this and related analytical purposes. The trade balance is the difference between exports and imports of goods. From an analytical view it is arbitrary to distinguish goods from services. For example, a unit of foreign exchange earned by a freight company strengthens the balance of payments to the same extent as the foreign exchange earned by a goods exporter. Even so, the trade balance is useful because it is often the most timely indicator of trends in the current account balance. Customs authorities are typically able to provide data on trade in goods long before data on trade in services are available.
Limitations and Exceptions: Discrepancies may arise in the balance of payments because there is no single source for balance of payments data and therefore no way to ensure that the data are fully consistent. Sources include customs data, monetary accounts of the banking system, external debt records, information provided by enterprises, surveys to estimate service transactions, and foreign exchange records. Differences in collection methods - such as in timing, definitions of residence and ownership, and the exchange rate used to value transactions - contribute to net errors and omissions. In addition, smuggling and other illegal or quasi-legal transactions may be unrecorded or misrecorded.
Statistical Concept and Methodology: The balance of payments (BoP) is a double-entry accounting system that shows all flows of goods and services into and out of an economy; all transfers that are the counterpart of real resources or financial claims provided to or by the rest of the world without a quid pro quo, such as donations and grants; and all changes in residents' claims on and liabilities to nonresidents that arise from economic transactions. All transactions are recorded twice - once as a credit and once as a debit. In principle the net balance should be zero, but in practice the accounts often do not balance, requiring inclusion of a balancing item, net errors and omissions. The concepts and definitions underlying the data are based on the sixth edition of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Balance of Payments Manual (BPM6). Balance of payments data for 2005 onward will be presented in accord with the BPM6. The historical BPM5 data series will end with data for 2008, which can be accessed through the World Development Indicators archives. The complete balance of payments methodology can be accessed through the International Monetary Fund website (www.imf.org/external/np/sta/bop/bop.htm).
General Comments: Note: Data are based on the sixth edition of the IMF's Balance of Payments Manual (BPM6) and are only available from 2005 onwards.