World Bulletin / News Desk
Eurostat said the EU28's surplus accounted for 1.6 percent of the bloc's gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2018, while the surplus was €68 billion (some $79.5 billion) -- 1.8 percent of the GDP -- in the fourth quarter of 2017 and €43.9 billion (around $46.5 billion), accounting for 1.2 percent of the GDP in the first quarter of last year.
"In the first quarter of 2018 compared with the fourth quarter of 2017, based on seasonally-adjusted data, the surplus of the goods account decreased [€34.7 billion compared to €41.1 billion], as did the surplus of the services account [€47.5 billion compared with €49.9 billion]," Eurostat said.
"The primary income account turned from deficit into a surplus [plus €2.3 billion compared to minus €1.6 billion]," it said.
"The deficit of the secondary income account dropped [minus €20.6 billion compared to minus €21.5 billion], as did the deficit of the capital account [minus €1.9 billion compared to minus €4.2 billion]."
Official figures showed 14 of the 28 EU member states recorded surpluses, 11 deficits, one was in balance and for two the data was confidential in the first quarter of 2018.
"The highest surpluses were observed in Germany [€71.5 billion], Austria [€5.3 billion], Italy [€4.8 billion], Czech Republic [€2.3 billion] and Sweden [€2.2 billion]," Eurostat said.
The statistical office noted that largest current account deficits were seen in the U.K. with minus €23.1 billion, France and Greece with minus €13 billion and minus €2.8 billion, respectively.
Among the main partners of the EU, the bloc recorded external current account surpluses with the U.S. (€60.8 billion), Switzerland (€21.7 billion), Brazil (€7.9 billion), Canada (€7.2 billion), Hong Kong (€6.5 billion) and India (€0.1 billion) in the first quarter of this year.
"Deficits were registered with China [minus €30.2 billion], Russia [minus €12.3 billion], offshore financial centers [minus €5.5 billion] and Japan [minus €2.8 billion]," Eurostat added.
The average euro/U.S. dollar exchange rate was 1.23 in the first quarter of this year, 1.17 in the last quarter of last year, and 1.06 in the first quarter of 2017.