Press Releases

Balance of Payments: November 2015

20/01/2016 - Press Releases

Balance of Payments: November 2015 (1) 

Current account

In November 2015, the current account showed a deficit of €1.2 billion, down by €278.4 million year-on-year. This improvement is attributable to the improved balance of goods, as well as to the improved primary and secondary income accounts, which offset the narrowing of the surplus of the services balance.

The deficit of the balance of goods shrank by €108 million year-on-year, mainly as a result of the lower net oil import bill. Transactions concerning the purchases and sales of ships were also significantly reduced, since they could not be recorded, to the extent that they were conducted outside the domestic banking system, due to capital controls. However, net payments for purchases of ships increased year-on-year. Overall, a decrease was observed in both exports and imports of goods, although imports declined more than exports.

The surplus of the services balance fell by €192.6 million, as a result of lower net transport (mainly sea transport) receipts. Travel receipts registered a remarkable rise (16%) year-on-year (November 2014: 1.5%), which resulted in an improved travel balance, despite the fact that the number of non-residents' arrivals decreased by 4%. Finally, the other services balance improved considerably.

As a result of the above-mentioned developments, exports of goods and services declined by 18.6%, i.e. more strongly than the corresponding imports (12.7%), and the deficit of the balance of goods and services grew by €84.6 million.

The primary income account showed a small surplus against a deficit in the same month of 2014 (improvement of €301.8 million), mainly on account of a decrease in net interest and dividend payments. At the same time, the deficit of the secondary income account also fell, due to a decline in the deficit of current transfers between general government and the EU.

In the January-November 2015 period, the current account showed a surplus of €1.1 billion, against a deficit of €1.9 billion in the corresponding period of 2014. This reflects the improved balance of goods and services, which showed a surplus of €911.7 million, against a deficit of €2.5 billion in the same period of 2014, mainly due to the reduced import bill. Overall, receipts from exports of goods and services fell by 8.4%, but the corresponding import bill decreased at a faster pace of 14.0%. In the same period, the primary and secondary income accounts deteriorated.

The deficit of the balance of goods dropped by €4.5 billion, due to an improvement in all subaccounts. More specifically, exports of goods excluding oil and ships rose by 4.6%, while the corresponding imports did not show any remarkable change.

The surplus of the services balance shrank, as net transport receipts registered a decline, which was partly offset by a rise in net travel and other services receipts. In the January-November 2015 period, total non-residents’ arrivals increased by 7.5% year-on-year, while the corresponding receipts grew by 5.9%.

Capital account

In November 2015, the capital account showed a surplus of €190.2 million, down by €295.5 million year-on-year, due to a decline in net capital transfers from the EU to general government. In the January-November 2015 period, the capital account showed a surplus of €1.9 billion, down by €413.3 million year-on-year.

Combined current and capital account

In November 2015, the combined current and capital account (corresponding to the economy's external financing requirements) showed a deficit of €1.0 billion, with no remarkable change year-on-year. In the January-November 2015 period, a surplus of €2.9 billion was recorded, up by €2.5 billion year-on-year.

Financial account

In November 2015, no remarkable transactions were recorded under direct investment.

Under portfolio investment, a net increase (of €7.7 billion) was recorded in residents' external liabilities, which is mainly attributable to a rise of €6.1 billion in non-residents' investment in shares of Greek firms and largely reflects foreign investors' purchases of bank shares in the context of the recent recapitalisation of Greek banks. In addition, the increase in non-residents' investment in bonds and Treasury bills also reflects for the most part foreign investors' purchases of bank bonds. A net increase of €0.5 billion in residents' external assets reflects residents' investment in foreign bonds.

Under other investment, a net decrease of €7.3 billion in liabilities is due to a net decline of €8.9 billion in non-residents' deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included), which was mainly offset by a net rise of €2.0 billion in the outstanding debt of the public and the private sector to non-residents (including a new ESM loan of €2.0 billion to the Greek State). Finally, a net decrease of €0.6 billion in liabilities is the result of a decline in residents' deposit and repo holdings abroad and of the statistical adjustment related to the issuance of banknotes.

In the January-November 2015 period, residents' net assets from direct investment abroad rose by €340.7 million, while the corresponding liabilities that represent non-residents' direct investment in Greece dropped by €411.3 million.

Under portfolio investment, a net increase of €1.6 billion in residents' external assets is mainly due to a €7.0 billion rise in residents' investment in shares of foreign firms, which was partly offset by a decline of €5.7 billion in residents' holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills. Moreover, residents’ net external liabilities fell by €2.4 billion, mainly on account of a decline in non-residents’ investment in Greek government bonds and Treasury bills, which was offset by a rise in non-residents' investment in shares of Greek firms.

Under other investment, a net increase in residents’ external assets and liabilities largely reflects the statistical adjustment associated with the issuance of banknotes (2). In addition, on the assets side, in January-November 2015 residents' deposit and repo holdings abroad registered a net increase of €2.4 billion. On the liabilities side, a net increase of €7.1 billion in non-residents’ deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included) was partly offset by a decrease in residents’ outstanding debt.

At end-November 2015, Greece's reserve assets stood at €5.3 billion, compared with €4.9 billion at end-November 2014.

Note: Balance of payments data for December 2015 will be released on 19 February 2016.


(1) Starting from data referring to July 2015, the Bank of Greece uses ELSTAT’s trade statistics instead of the settlements data used until June 2015 inclusive. For more information on the transition to the new methodology, see the relevant Press Release published by the Bank of Greece on 21 September 2015. Moreover, as from reference month January 2015, the presentation of the balance of payments is in accordance with the IMF’s Balance of Payments Manual 6th edition (BPM6).

(2) In the January-November 2015 period, both assets and liabilities registered an increase on account of the statistical adjustment related to the issuance of banknotes, which came to €16.0 billion and €15.3 billion respectively.

Related link: Balance of Payments: November 2015 - Table

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