Press Releases

Balance of payments: December 2017

20/02/2018 - Press Releases

Current account

In December 2017, the current account showed a deficit of €1.2 billion, up by €233 million year-on-year. This development was the result of a worsening in all of its main components apart from the balance of goods, which displayed a slight improvement.

The reduction in the deficit of the balance of goods is attributable to the fact that both oil exports and non-oil exports of goods rose more than the corresponding imports. Exports of goods rose by 14.7% at current prices and by 11.1% at constant prices. In particular, non-oil exports increased by 12.3% and 9.9% at current and constant prices, respectively. The decrease in the services surplus is due to lower net travel and other services receipts, which were partly offset by higher net transport receipts as a result of a 16.2% rise in net sea transport receipts. As regards travel services, in December 2017, although receipts increased slightly (by 0.8%) despite a marginal fall in arrivals, the correspoanding payments (i.e. travel spending by residents abroad) rose significantly (by 26.5%), which resulted in lower net receipts year-on-year.

In 2017, the current account showed a deficit of €1.5 billion, down by €418 million year-on-year. This development reflects improvements mainly in the services balance and, to a lesser extent, the primary and the secondary income accounts, 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 the result of increases in both the deficit of the oil balance and the deficit of the non-oil balance of goods. It should be noted that in 2017 exports of goods increased by 14.1% and 4.6% at current and constant prices, respectively, and that the corresponding growth rates for non-oil exports were 9.6% and 6.7%. At the same time, a rise was also recorded in goods imports, of 12.7% and 7.4% at current and constant prices, respectively.

The expansion of the surplus of the services balance is due to improvements principally in the travel balance and, secondarily, in the transport balance, while the surplus of the other services balance fell. More specifically, as regards the travel balance, non-residents' arrivals increased by 9.7% and the corresponding receipts by 10.5%. Moreover, transport receipts rose by 16.9% at current prices. Finally, the primary and secondary income accounts also improved.

Capital account

In December 2017, the capital account surplus grew, mainly due to a rise in net capital transfers to general government. In 2017, a surplus of €915 million was recorded, against a surplus of €1 billion in 2016.

Combined current and capital account

In December 2017, the combined current and capital account (corresponding to the economy's external financing requirements) registered a deficit of €772 million, up by €43 million year-on-year, while in 2017 it showed a deficit of €540 million, down by €297 million year-on-year.

Financial account

In December 2017, residents' net external liabilities, which represent non-residents' direct investment in Greece, increased by €286 million.

Under portfolio investment, a net decrease in residents' external assets is chiefly attributable to a decline of €9.3 billion in residents' holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills. A net increase in their liabilities is mainly due to a rise of €841 million in non-residents' holdings of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills.

Under other investment, a net decrease in residents’ external assets mainly reflects the statistical adjustment related to holdings of euro banknotes (1). The net decrease in liabilities reflects a fall of €10 billion in non-residents' deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included).

In 2017, under direct investment, residents' external assets rose by €543 million and the corresponding liabilities by €3.6 billion.

Under portfolio investment, a net decrease in residents' external assets reflects mainly a drop of €18.2 billion in residents' holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills, while a net decline in liabilities reflects chiefly a decrease of €1.1 billion in non-residents' holdings of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills.

Under other investment, a net decrease in residents' assets reflects mainly the statistical adjustment related to holdings of euro banknotes as well as a decline of €2.5 billion in residents' (credit institutions' and institutional investors') deposit and repo holdings abroad (2). A net decrease in liabilities largely reflects a drop of €29.9 billion in non-residents' deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included), which more than offset an increase of €6.0 billion in the outstanding debt of the public and the private sector to non-residents.

At end-December 2017, Greece’s reserve assets remained unchanged year-on-year, at €6.5 billion.

Note: Balance of payments data for January 2018 will be released on 23 March 2018.

Related link: Balance of payments: December 2017 - Table

(1) In December 2017, both assets and liabilities registered a decrease on account of the statistical adjustment related to holdings of euro banknotes, which came to €395 million and €369 million, respectively.

(2) In 2017, both assets and liabilities registered a decrease on account of the statistical adjustment related to holdings of euro banknotes, which came to €8.0 billion and €8.6 billion, respectively.

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