Current account balance
In September 2014, the current account balance showed a surplus of €1.6 billion, up by €652 million year-on-year. This development was the result of the improved balance of goods and services, which is mainly attributable to a significant rise in oil export receipts, as well as in travel and transport receipts.
The trade deficit contracted by €223 million year-on-year, owing to the lower net import bill for oil and ships. By contrast, the trade deficit excluding oil and ships grew, despite a 9.4% rise in export receipts, since the corresponding import bill also increased at a faster rate (11.6%).
The surplus of the services balance widened by €425 million year-on-year, on account of improvements in the travel services balance and in the transport (mainly sea transport) services balance. In more detail, travel receipts increased by 10.9%, reflecting a 23.0% rise in non-residents’ arrivals.
In the January-September 2014 period, the current account balance showed a surplus of €3.8 billion, compared with €2.4 billion over the same period of 2013. In addition, the overall balance of goods and services recorded a surplus of €3.2 billion, compared with €1.4 billion in 2013. This development is attributable to the improved services balance. It should be noted that, over the January-September 2014 period, total exports of goods and services rose by 8.5% (compared with 2.8% over the same period in 2013). In more detail, receipts from exports of goods increased by 4.2%, while receipts from services rose by 11.6%.
The trade deficit grew by €698 million, on account of higher net payments for purchases of ships. The net oil import bill fell, as did the trade deficit excluding oil and ships, the contraction of which is attributable to a rise in export receipts, given that the corresponding import bill also increased, but at a slower pace.
The €2.5 billion rise in the surplus of the services balance is due to higher net receipts from travel, transport and “other” services. Specifically, travel spending by non-residents in Greece grew by 11.1% year-on-year, reflecting a 22.2% rise in non-residents’ arrivals.
Moreover, in the January-September 2014 period, the income account deficit fell by €430 million, mainly as a result of lower net interest payments. Finally, the current transfers surplus contracted by €854 million year-on-year, mainly as a result of lower general government transfer receipts from the EU, and stood at €2.8 billion.
Capital transfers balance
In September 2014, the capital transfers balance showed a deficit of €57 million, compared with €8 million in September 2013, due to a rise in the payments of the “other” (excluding general government) sectors. In the January-September 2014 period, the surplus of the capital transfers balance came to €1.8 billion, compared with €2.8 billion over the same period in 2013.
The overall transfers balance (current transfers plus capital transfers) recorded a surplus of €4.6 billion in the January-September 2014 period, compared with €6.4 billion over the corresponding period in 2013.
Combined current account and capital transfers balance
In the January-September 2014 period, the combined current account and capital transfers balance (corresponding to the economy’s external financing requirements) showed a surplus of €5.5 billion, against €5.2 billion in the same period of 2013.
Financial account balance
In September 2014, residents’ direct investment abroad recorded an increase of €173 million, mainly due to the participation of Eurobank in the capital increase of its subsidiary in Luxembourg Eurobank Holding S.A. No remarkable transactions were recorded under non-residents’ direct investment in Greece.
Portfolio investment recorded a net inflow of €309 million, chiefly on account of a net increase in non-residents’ investment in Greek government bonds and Treasury bills, which was partly offset by a net outflow in residents’ holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills.
Under other investment, a net outflow of €1.5 billion was recorded, attributable to a decrease in non-residents’ deposit and repo holdings in Greece and to a decline in the outstanding debt of the public and the private sector to non-residents, which were partly offset by a net decrease in residents’ deposit and repo holdings abroad.
In the January-September 2014 period, non-residents’ direct investment in Greece showed a net inflow of €1.2 billion, while residents’ direct investment abroad showed a net outflow of €422 million.
Under portfolio investment, a net outflow of €793 million was recorded, on account of a rise in residents’ investment abroad (outflow of €5.8 billion), which was largely offset by an increase in non-residents’ investment in Greece, mainly in shares of Greek firms (inflow of €8 billion).
Under “other” investment, a net outflow of €3.4 billion was recorded, primarily on account of a decline in non-residents’ deposits and repo holdings in Greece (outflow of €13.7 billion), which was offset by a net increase in the outstanding debt of the public and the private sector to non-residents (inflow of €8.5 billion) and a decrease in residents’ deposit and repo holdings abroad (inflow of €2.5 billion).
At end-September 2014, Greece’s reserve assets stood at €5 billion, compared with €4.6 billion at end-September 2013.
Note: Balance of payments data for October 2014 will be released on 22 December 2014.
Related link: Balance of payments: September 2014 - Table