It said on Wednesday the outward remittances declined by 9.47% from RM9.5bil in the third quarter.
As for inward remittances, they were sustained at RM3.8bil (3Q: RM3.8bil), it said in its quarterly bulletin for the fourth quarter of 2017.
Hence, the secondary income account registered a sizeable, albeit smaller deficit of RM4.8bil (3Q: -RM5.7bil).
Bank Negara said the current account surplus widened slightly to RM12.9bil in Q4 (Q3: RM12.5bil), accounting for 3.7% of GNI (3Q 2017: 3.7% of GNI) due to a larger goods surplus and lower deficit in the secondary income account which offset the higher deficits in the services and primary income accounts.
For the full year, the current account surplus widened to RM40.3bil or 3.1% of GNI (2016: 2.4% of GNI), the highest since 2015.
It also pointed out the goods surplus increased to RM34.1bil (3Q: RM31.7bil), underpinned by the sustained strong export performance .
However, the services account saw a larger deficit of RM6.9bil (3Q: -RM4.9bil). This was due to mainly to the lower surplus in the travel account (RM7.9bil; 3Q 2017: RM9.2bil) as travel receipts declined due to lower tourist per capita expenditure.
As for the construction services deficit, it was also higher (-RM4.3bil; 3Q: -RM3.3bil), driven by higher construction services imports mainly in projects related to the oil & gas, utilities and transportation sectors.
The higher deficit in the primary income account (-RM9.5bil; 3Q: -RM8.6bil) was largely due to higher profits accrued to foreign investors in Malaysia, particularly in the mining and wholesale & retail trade services sub-sectors.
Bank Negara pointed out this was partially offset by higher profits earned by Malaysian firms investing abroad, particularly in the real estate services sub-sector.