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Balance of Payments: November 2019

20/01/2020 - Press Releases

Current account

In November 2019, the current account showed an improvement compared with the corresponding month in 2018, registering a deficit of €1.4 billion. This development is mainly attributable to an improvement in the primary and the secondary income accounts, as well as to a slight decrease in the deficit of the balance of goods. By contrast, the surplus of the services balance declined.

The deficit of the balance of goods narrowed due to a decrease in the non-oil deficit, while the oil deficit widened. Total exports and imports of goods declined by an almost equal amount mainly on account of a fall in oil exports and imports, respectively, while non-oil exports and imports of goods did not show any remarkable change. 

A decrease of €114 million in the surplus of the services balance is attributable to a decline in the surpluses of the travel and transport balances, and to the turn of the other services balance into a deficit. Travel receipts decreased by 0.8% even though non-residents’ arrivals rose by 18.2% year-on-year. The surplus of the transport balance fell by 2.7% due to lower sea transport receipts.

The deficit of the primary income account shrunk mainly owing to lower net interest, dividend and profit payments, while a decrease was also registered in the deficit of the secondary income account due to lower general government payments.

In the January-November 2019 period, the current account deficit narrowed by €1.7 billion year-on-year and stood at €2.0 billion. This development is chiefly attributable to an increase in the surplus of the services balance and, to a lesser extent, to an improvement in the primary and the secondary income accounts.

The above developments more than offset a widening in the deficit of the balance of goods, which resulted mainly from a rise in the non-oil deficit, while a slight increase was also registered in the oil deficit.  However, it should be noted that non-oil exports of goods increased (by 4% at current prices and by 4.5% at constant prices), outpacing the corresponding imports (which grew by 3.6% at current and constant prices).

A rise in the services surplus is due to an improvement in, primarily, the travel balance and, secondarily, the transport balance, while the deficit of the other services balance rose. Travel receipts and non-residents’ arrivals increased by 13% and 4%, respectively, year-on-year. Transport (mainly sea transport) receipts rose by 4.3%.

The deficit of the primary income account narrowed due to lower net interest, dividend and profit payments, offsetting a decrease in the surplus of the other income account. Finally, the deficit of the secondary income account registered a significant drop, which came from an increase in general government net receipts.

Capital account

In November 2019, the capital account recorded a surplus of €258 million, down by €25 million year-on-year, while on the contrary, in the January-November 2019 period, the surplus rose year-on-year, reaching €464 million. 

Combined current and capital account

In November 2019, the combined current and capital account (corresponding to the economy’s external financing requirements) showed a deficit of €1.1 billion, down by €29 million year-on-year. In the January-November 2019 period, the combined current and capital account showed a deficit of €1.6 billion, having more than halved from €3.3 billion in the corresponding period of 2018.

Financial account

In November 2019, under direct investment, residents’ net external assets rose by €130 million; the most important transaction concerned the participation of the Greek Organisation of Football Prognostics S.A. (OPAP) in the capital increase of OPAP Investment Limited (Cyprus). Residents’ net external liabilities (which represent non-residents’ direct investment in Greece) increased by €261 million, without any major transactions.

Under portfolio investment, a net increase in residents' external assets is mainly attributable to a rise of €660 million in their holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills. A net decrease in their liabilities is almost entirely attributable to a drop of €892 million in non-residents’ holdings of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills.

Under other investment, a net decrease in residents’ external assets is due to a decline of €970 million in residents’ deposit and repo holdings abroad, which was partly offset by an increase of €283 million in loans extended to non-residents. A net increase in their liabilities reflects a rise of €4.4 billion in non-residents’ deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included), which was offset by residents’ foreign loan repayments of €2.9 billion (including the early repayment of tranches of the IMF loan extended to the general government).

In the January-November 2019 period, under direct investment, residents’ net external assets increased by €470 million and their net external liabilities rose by €3.5 billion.

Under portfolio investment, a net increase in residents’ external assets is due to a rise of €25.8 billion in residents’ holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills. A net increase in their liabilities is due to a rise of €2.4 billion in non-residents’ holdings of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills.

Under other investment, a net decrease in residents’ external assets is attributable to a decline of €5.5 billion in residents’ deposit and repo holdings abroad, which was partly offset by the statistical adjustment (of €3.9 billion) related to holdings of euro banknotes. A net rise in their liabilities reflects chiefly an increase of €25.5 billion in non-residents’ deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included), as well as a €5.7 billion decrease in the outstanding debt of the public and the private sector to non-residents.

At end-November 2019, Greece's reserve assets stood at €7.3 billion, compared with €6.5 billion at end-November 2018, mainly on account of valuation changes.

Note: Balance of payments data for December 2019 will be released on 20 February 2020.

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