The FINANCIAL — The European Union (EU) surplus in trade in services fell in 2016 for the third year in a row. It stood at €133.1 bn, compared with €142.4 bn in 2015 and a peak of €179.7 bn in 2013. This is the result of slightly decreasing EU exports of services to the rest of the world (-0.3%), while imports increased by 1.0% in the meantime.
EU surplus with the USA turned into a deficit
In 2016, the USA (26% of EU total exports and 31% of EU imports) remained the top EU partner for international trade in services, followed by the four EFTA countries together (17% of EU exports and 16% of EU imports). The EU recorded surpluses with almost all its main partners in 2016. Contrary to previous years, the EU registered in 2016 a slight deficit with the USA (-€1.3 bn), while it continued to have a negative balance with India (-€1.7 bn) and Hong Kong (-€0.5 bn). The largest surplus was observed in trade with the EFTA countries (+€33.9 bn), ahead of Russia (+€13.5 bn), Japan (+€13.0 bn) and China (+€8.8 bn).
Compared with 2015, a significant drop in the EU surplus can be noted with the EFTA countries (from +€56.2 bn in 2015 to +€33.9 bn in 2016) as well as with the USA (from a surplus of €17.9 bn in 2015 to a deficit of €1.3 bn in 2016). In contrast, the EU surplus rose markedly with other countries (from +€21.2 bn in 2015 to +€55.1 bn in 2016).
EU surplus largely sustained by ICT and financial services
The main components of EU international trade in services were “other business services” (R&D, business, professional & technical services) which accounted in 2016 for 27% of EU total exports and 34% of imports, Transport services (17% and 17%), Travel services (13% and 14%), Charges for the use of intellectual property (8% and 16%), Telecommunications, computer and information services (13% and 6%) and Financial services (11% and 6%).
In 2016, ICT services became the largest contributor to the EU surplus (+€68.9 bn), ahead of financial services
(+€45.6 bn), transport services (+€27.5 bn) and insurance and pension services (+€20.1 bn). In contrast, significant deficits were recorded for charges for the use of intellectual property (-€49.4 bn) as well as for Research & development services (-€37.4 bn).