Balance of Payment (BOP)

Balance of Payment (BOP) – Concept & Definition

Most of exports and imports involve finance i.e. receipts and payments in money. An account of all receipts and payments is termed as Balance of Payments (BOP).

According to Kindle berger, “The balance of payments of a country is a systematic record of all economic transactions between the residents of the reporting country and residents of foreign countries during a given period of time”.

The balance of payment record is maintained in a standard double-entry book-keeping method. International transactions enter in to the record as credit or debit. The payments received from foreign countries enter as credit and payments made to other countries as debit.

Balance of Payment is a record pertaining to a period of time; usually it is all annual statement. All the transactions entering the balance of payments can be grouped under three broad accounts; (1) Current Account, (2) Capital Account, and (3) Official International Reserve Account. However, it can be vertically divided into many categories as per the requirement.

Structure of Balance of Payment (BOP) ↓

1. Trade Account Balance
It is the difference between exports and imports of goods, usually referred as visible or tangible items. Till recently goods dominated international trade. Trade account balance tells as whether a country enjoys a surplus or deficit on that account. An industrial country with its industrial products comprising consumer and capital goods always had an advantageous position. Developing countries with its export of primary goods had most of the time suffered from a deficit in their balance of payments. Most of the OPEC countries are in better position on trade account balance.
The Balance of Trade is also referred as the ‘Balance of Visible Trade’ or ‘Balance of Merchandise Trade’.

2. Current Account Balance
It is difference between the receipts and payments on account of current account which includes trade balance. The current account includes export of services, interests, profits, dividends and unilateral receipts from abroad, and the import of services, interests, profits, dividends and unilateral Payments to abroad. There can be either surplus or deficit in current account. The deficit will take place when the debits are more than credits or when payments are more than receipts and the current account surplus will take place when the credits are more than debits.

3. Capital Account Balance
It is difference between the receipts and payments on account of capital account. The capital account involves inflows and outflows relating to investments, short tern borrowings/lending, and medium term to long term borrowing/lending. There can be surplus or deficit in capital account. The surplus will take place when the credits are more than debits and the deficit will take place when the debits are more than credits.

4. Foreign Exchange Reserves
Foreign exchange reserves (Check item No.9 in above figure) shows the reserves which are held in the form of foreign currencies usually in hard currencies like dollar, pound etc., gold and Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). Foreign exchange reserves are analogous to an individual’s holding of cash. They increase when the individual has a surplus in his transactions and decrease when he has a deficit. When a country enjoys a net surplus both in current account & capital account, it increases foreign exchange reserves. Whenever current account deficit exceeds the inflow in capital account, foreign exchange from the reserve accounts is used to meet the deficit If a country’s foreign exchange reserves rise, that transaction is shown as minus in that country’s balance of payments accounts because money is been transferred to the foreign exchange reserves.
Foreign exchange reserves (forex) are used to meet the deficit in the balance of payments. The entry is in the receipt side as we receive the forex for the particular year by reducing the balance from the reserves. When surplus is transferred to the foreign exchange reserve, it is shown as minus in that particular year’s balance of payment account. The minus sign (-) indicates an increase in forex and plus sign (+) shows the borrowing of foreign exchange from the forex account to meet the deficit.

5. Errors and Omission
The errors may be due to statistical discrepancies & omission may be due to certain transactions may not be recorded. For eg: A remittance by an Indian working abroad to India may not yet recorded, or a payment of dividend abroad by an MNC operating in India may not yet recorded or so on. The errors and omissions amount equals to the amount necessary to balance both the sides.