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20/11/2018 - Balance of payments: Revision of sea transport statistics

Starting from reference month September 2018, the Bank of Greece is introducing a significant change to the way sea transport accounts of the balance of payments are compiled. More specifically, instead of the bank settlements data used until August 2018, the Bank will be using data from international shipping databases and administrative sources. With these new sources, the sea transport statistics in the balance of payments reflect international shipping transactions carried out within or outside the domestic banking system, in line with international balance of payment compilation guidelines.

This change was deemed necessary in view of an apparent sharp decrease in shipping receipts and payments from 2015 onwards, following the imposition of capital controls and the concomitant decline in the intermediation of the domestic banking system in shipping transactions. This shift to alternative data sources also entails a revision of the existing maritime transport data series for the period from January 2015 onwards. Based on available evidence, the sea transport statistics of the balance of payments for the period up to the end of 2014 adequately reflect shipping developments and therefore do not need to be revised.

The new approach allows for a detailed calculation of receipts and expenses on a monthly basis, combining information from domestic administrative sources and global databases maintained by international agencies and recommended by international organizations, including the IMF, as reliable data providers. This new approach was developed in collaboration with shipping experts from the academia and the industry and was presented during the ECB and Eurostat mission to the Bank of Greece in November 2017, as part of the quality assurance of statistics underlying the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure (MIP); at meetings of Eurostat’s Balance of Payments Working Group (BOP WG); and at the meeting of Eurostat’s Task Force on the recording and compilation of maritime transactions in national accounts and balance of payments, in April 2018. The Greek Shipping Estimation Model has been included in the draft version of Eurostat’s guidelines entitled “Maritime cluster − guidance for BOP data compilers”, while the European Central Bank has already been notified of the changes made.

A detailed description of the methodology is available here.

The balance of payment items that are affected by the data revision are the following: imports and exports of ships; goods procured in ports by carriers; sea transport services; repair services; insurance services; primary income (labour and investment income); secondary income; and financial transactions (loans and deposits).