Press Releases

Balance of Payments – May 2015

21/07/2015 - Press Releases

Balance of Payments – May 2015 (1)

Current account balance

In May 2015, the current account balance showed a surplus of €407 million, against a deficit of €299 million in the same month of 2014. This improvement is mostly due to the improved balance of goods and services, which showed a surplus of €725 million, up by €636 million year-on-year. In particular, total receipts from exports of goods and services registered a small increase (1%), but the import bill decreased considerably (13.7%), owing mainly to the lower oil import bill.

More specifically, the deficit of the balance of goods decreased by €476 million year-on-year, on account of the lower net oil import bill. The improvement in the oil balance, which was significant, is partly attributable to reduced oil imports by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), due to a temporary shutdown of the Aspropyrgos refinery. Also, imports of goods excluding oil and ships rose by 5.2%, while the corresponding exports fell by 3.6% year-on-year, pushing up the deficit of the balance of goods excluding oil and ships.

The surplus of the services balance improved by €159 million, on account of improvements primarily in the travel services balance and secondarily in the transport (sea and other transport) services balance. The surplus of the travel services balance increased by €124 million, mainly as a result of a 13.2% rise in non-residents' arrivals in May and a 17% hike in the corresponding receipts.

Underlying the above developments was also the decrease in the deficit of the primary income account, while the secondary income account deteriorated slightly.

In the January-May 2015 period, the current account balance showed a deficit of €2.7 billion, up by €122 million year-on-year. This increase is mainly attributable to a deterioration in the primary and secondary income accounts. By contrast, the balance of goods showed an improvement, which more than offset a slight decline in the surplus of the services balance, resulting in an improvement in the overall balance of goods and services.

The deficit of the balance of goods decreased by €910 million, on account of lower net payments for purchases of ships and a lower net oil import bill. By contrast, the deficit of the balance of goods excluding oil and ships increased. It should be noted that receipts from exports of goods excluding oil and ships remained almost unchanged, while the corresponding import bill increased by 7.9%.

The surplus of the services balance shrank to a small extent, as net transport and other services receipts registered a decline, which was only partly offset by a rise in net travel receipts. In the January-May 2015 period, total non-residents’ arrivals increased by 27.1% year-on-year, while the corresponding receipts grew by 15%.

In the January-May 2015 period, the surplus of the primary income account narrowed, mainly on account of higher net payments related to investment income (interest, dividends and profits) and lower net other primary income. Moreover, the secondary income account recorded a deficit that was higher than that in the same period of 2014.

Capital account balance

In May 2015, the capital account showed a small surplus, against a small deficit in May 2014. In the January-May 2015 period, the capital account showed a surplus of €473 million, down by €962 million year-on-year.

Combined current and capital account balance

In May 2015, the combined current and capital account balance (corresponding to the economy's external financing requirements) showed a surplus of €419 million, against a deficit in May 2014. In the January-May 2015 period, a deficit of €2.3 billion was recorded, compared with a deficit of €1.2 billion in the same period of 2014.

Financial account balance

In May 2015, no remarkable changes were recorded under direct investment.

Under portfolio investment, a net increase of €947 million in residents' external assets reflects mainly a rise of €645 million in residents' investment in shares of foreign firms and an increase of €267 million in residents' holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills. A rise of €12.7 million in residents' net external liabilities reflects a net increase of €29 million in non-residents' investment in Greek government bonds and Treasury bills, which was partly offset by a decrease of €20 million in non-residents' investment in shares of Greek firms.

Under other investment, a net increase in residents' external assets and liabilities (of €2.3 billion in both cases) reflects mainly the statistical adjustment that relates to the issue of banknotes (2). In addition, the net rise in assets is attributable to a €604 million hike in residents' deposit and repo holdings abroad. At the same time, the net increase in liabilities is attributable to a net rise of €2.2 billion in the outstanding debt of the public and the private sector to non-residents (including €753 million of principal payments to the IMF under the support mechanism), and to a net decrease of €1.5 billion in non-residents' deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included).

In the January-May 2015 period, residents’ net assets from direct investment abroad rose by €108 million, while the corresponding liabilities that represent non-residents’ direct investment in Greece grew by €15 million.

Under portfolio investment, a net decrease of €5.1 billion in residents’ external assets is mainly due to a drop of €11.0 billion in residents’ holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills, which was partly offset by a rise of €5.8 billion in residents’ investment in shares of foreign firms. Moreover, residents’ net external liabilities fell by €2.8 billion, mainly on account of a decline in non-residents’ investment in Greek government bonds and Treasury bills and in shares of Greek firms.

Finally, under other investment, a net increase in residents' external assets and liabilities reflects mainly the statistical adjustment that relates to the issue of banknotes, as already mentioned (3). In addition, in the January-May 2015 period, residents’ deposit and repo holdings abroad recorded a net increase of €6.0 billion, and non-residents’ deposit and repo holdings in Greece recorded a net rise of €19.5 billion (the TARGET account included). These developments were considerably offset by a decrease in residents’ outstanding debt.

At end-May 2015, Greece's reserve assets stood at €5.2 billion, compared with €5.0 billion at end-May 2014.

Note: Balance of payments data for June 2015 will be released on 20 August 2015.

(1) It should be noted that, as from reference month January 2015, the presentation of the balance of payments is based on the Balance of Payments Manual 6th edition (BPM6). For more information on the transition to the new BPM6 methodology, see the relevant Press Release published by the Bank of Greece on 23 March 2015.

(2) It should be noted that, as from January 2015, under other investment, the statistical adjustment that relates to the issue of (euro) banknotes above the key for subscription to the European Central Bank’s capital is also recorded under liabilities, representing liabilities of the Bank of Greece vis-à-vis the Eurosystem. This entry is offset by an entry of the same amount under assets, representing residents’ assets vis-à-vis the Eurosystem. In May 2015, the increase in assets that relates to the statistical adjustment stands at €1,634 million and the corresponding increase in liabilities at €1,605 million.

(3) See footnote 2. In the January-May 2015 period, the increase in assets that relates to the statistical adjustment stands at €12.5 billion and the corresponding increase in liabilities at €12.6 billion.

Related link: Balance of Payments – May 2015 - Table

  

 

 

 

 

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