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Balance of Payments methodology and glossary


The balance of payments is one of the UK’s key economic statistical series. It measures the economic transactions between UK residents and the rest of the world. It also draws a series of balances between inward and outward transactions, provides a net flow of transactions between UK residents and the rest of the world and reports how that flow is funded. Economic transactions include:

  • exports and imports of goods, such as oil, agricultural products, other raw materials, machinery and transport equipment, computers, white goods and clothing

  • exports and imports of services such as international transport, travel, financial and business services 

  • income flows, such as dividends and interest earned by foreigners on investments in the UK and by UK residents investing abroad

  • financial flows, such as direct investment, investment in shares, debt securities, loans and deposits

  • transfers, which are offsetting entries to any one-sided transactions listed above, such as foreign aid and funds brought by migrants to the UK 

Closely related to the balance of payments is the international investment position series of statistics. The international investment position measures the levels of financial investment with the rest of the world, inward and outward.

An introduction to the UK Balance of Payments (64.6 Kb Pdf)

Balance of Payments Methodological Notes (269.1 Kb Pdf)

Balance of Payments Glossary  

Further Information on UK Balance of Payments

Balance of Payments and the Relationship to National Accounts


Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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