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23/10/2017 - Balance of payments: August 2017

Current account

In August 2017, the current account showed a surplus of €1.8 billion, up by €163 million year-on-year. The main developments were the rise in the surplus of the services balance (by €588 million) and the increase in the deficit of the balance of goods (by €504 million).

The rise in the deficit of the balance of goods is almost entirely attributable to a rise in the deficit of the oil balance. It should be noted that non-oil exports of goods rose by 12.1% at current prices and by 8.8% at constant prices.

The rise in the surplus of the services balance is due to an improvement mostly in the travel balance, since non-residents' arrivals and the corresponding receipts increased by 14.3% and 16.4%, respectively. The surplus of the transport balance expanded solely on account of higher net sea transport receipts.

In the January-August 2017 period, the current account improved year-on-year, as the €211 million deficit turned into a €123 million surplus. This development reflects improvements mainly in the services balance and to a lesser extent in the primary and the secondary income account, which more than offset an increase in the deficit of the balance of goods.

A widening in the deficit of the balance of goods is mainly the result of an increase in the deficit of the oil balance, as the deficit of the non-oil balance of goods registered a smaller rise. It should be noted that non-oil exports of goods increased by 9.1% and 6.2% at current and constant prices, respectively.

A rise in the surplus of the services balance is the result of an improvement in all of its main components. More specifically, as regards the travel balance, non-residents' arrivals increased by 9.9% and the corresponding receipts by 9.1%. Moreover, transport receipts rose by 18.1%.

Capital account

In August 2017, no significant changes were registered in the capital account, while in the January-August 2017 period a surplus of €374 million was recorded, compared with a surplus of €638 million in the same period of 2016.

Combined current and capital account

In August 2017, the combined current and capital account (corresponding to the economy's external financing requirements) registered a surplus of €1.8 billion, up by €169 million year-on-year, while in the January-August 2017 period it showed a surplus of €498 million, up by €71 million year-on-year.

Financial account

In August 2017, under direct investment, residents' net external assets increased by €51 million and residents' net external liabilities, which represent non-residents' direct investment in Greece, increased by €378 million, with no remarkable transactions.

Under portfolio investment, a net decrease in residents' external assets is chiefly attributable to a drop of €4.6 billion in residents' holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills. A net increase in residents' external liabilities is due to an increase of €821 million in non-residents' holdings of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills.

Under other investment, a small decrease in residents' assets and a large decrease in residents' liabilities were recorded. The latter reflects to a large extent a fall of €7.1 billion in non-residents' deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included). (1)

In the January-August period, under direct investment, residents' external assets increased by €246 million and the corresponding liabilities by €2.7 billion.

Under portfolio investment, a net decrease in residents' external assets reflects mainly a drop of €8.0 billion in residents' holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills, while a net decrease in liabilities reflects chiefly a decrease of €3.8 billion in non-residents' holdings of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills.

Under other investment, a net decrease in residents' assets largely reflects a decline of €2.0 billion in residents' (credit institutions' and institutional investors') deposit and repo holdings abroad. A net decrease in liabilities largely reflects a drop of €13.9 billion in non-residents' deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included), which more than offset an increase of €4.8 billion in the outstanding debt of the public and the private sector to non-residents. (2)

At end-August 2017, Greece’s reserve assets stood at €6.4 billion, compared with €6.8 billion at end-August 2016.

Note: Balance of payment statistics for September 2017 will be released on 20 November 2017.

Related link: Balance of payments: August 2017 - Table

(1) In August 2017, both assets and liabilities registered a decrease on account of the statistical adjustment related to holdings of euro banknotes, which came to €715 million and €945 million, respectively.

(2) In the January-August 2017 period, both assets and liabilities registered a decrease on account of the statistical adjustment related to holdings of euro banknotes, which came to €4.6 billion and €5.0 billion, respectively.