The nation posted a balance of payments (BOP) surplus of US$3.58 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, down from the US$3.7 billion posted three months ago, mainly due to continuous net outflows from the financial account, the central bank said yesterday.
The balance of payments — which include current, financial and capital accounts — summarizes the net amount of money paid or received by a country in a certain period.
The BOP surplus in last year’s October-to-December period fell 3.24 percent from the third quarter last year, the central bank said in a report.
Increasing net outflows from the financial account were the major factor dragging down the nation’s BOP surplus in the fourth quarter of last year, and further raised some concerns about the nation’s investment environment.
The financial account recorded a net outflow of US$11.61 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, the 10th consecutive quarter that it has posted a net outflow — the longest period in history, the report’s data showed.
It had previously registered a net outflow for 10 quarters in a row between 2005 and 2007.
The net outflow from the financial account during the latest 10 straight quarters totaled US$72.15 billion, also marking the highest level ever, compared with the net outflow of US$67.25 billion registered between the 10-quarter period between 2005 and 2007, the report said.
On the other hand, the current account surplus totaled US$15.96 billion in the fourth quarter, with the full-year surplus expanding to US$49.55 billion, both marking the highest levels in history, the bank said.
However, Lin Shu-hua (林淑華), deputy chief of the central bank’s economic research department, said the major factor behind the record-high current account surplus level was the larger decline in imports last year, compared with the falling pace of exports, “which was not exactly a good sign for Taiwan’s economy.”
For the whole of last year, the BOP surplus amounted to US$15.48 billion, up from US$6.24 billion in 2011, the bank’s data showed.