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Balance of payments: August 2013

18/10/2013 - Press Releases

Current account balance
August 2013
The current account balance showed a surplus of €1.2 billion, which was lower by €412 million year-on-year mainly because the income account deficit increased, the current transfers balance shifted from a surplus (in August 2012) to a deficit, and the trade deficit grew. These developments were partly offset by a rise in the surplus of the services balance.

The most significant positive development in August was an improvement in the travel balance, mainly on account of a rise in travel receipts. Moreover, the trade deficit excluding oil and ships shrank, as export receipts kept rising and the import bill continued to decline. However, these developments did not offset a deterioration in the oil and ships balances; as a result, the overall trade deficit grew.

January-August 2013
The current account balance showed a surplus of €1.6 billion, against a deficit of €3.7 billion in the same period of 2012. This development is attributable, primarily, to a significant decline in the trade deficit (down by €2.9 billion) and, secondarily, to increases in the current transfers and services surpluses (up by €2.1 billion and €961 million, respectively). By contrast, the income account deficit increased.

In more detail, the contraction of the trade deficit is largely attributable to the considerably reduced import bill for all categories of goods and, secondarily, to a 6.2% rise in export receipts. Apart from oil product exports, which account for the bulk of this increase, the contribution of the sectors of foods and beverages, minerals, and non-metallic mineral products is also significant.

The increase in the services surplus is mostly due to higher net travel receipts and to net receipts from “other” services (against net payments in the same period of 2012), which offset a decline in net transport receipts. In more detail, travel spending in Greece by non-residents grew by 13.7% year-on-year (also reflecting a 14.7% rise in non-residents’ arrivals over the same period, according to the Bank of Greece’s border survey); at the same time, travel spending by residents abroad fell by 6.5%.

The income account deficit rose by €682 million year-on-year, mainly due to higher net interest, dividend and profit payments.

Finally, the current transfers balance showed a surplus of €3.7 billion, up by €2.1 billion year-on-year. This development is mainly due to higher general government net transfer receipts (mainly from the EU).

Capital transfers balance
In August 2013, the capital transfers balance showed a small deficit, against a surplus of €372 million in August 2012.

In the January-August 2013 period, as a result of an increase in net (EU) capital transfers to general government, which more than offset a rise in the net capital transfer payments of the other sectors, the capital transfers balance recorded a surplus of €2.8 billion, up by 1.2 billion year-on-year.

As a result of these developments, the overall transfers balance (current transfers plus capital transfers) showed a surplus of €6.5 billion in the January-August 2013 period, up by €3.3 billion year-on-year.

Combined current account and capital transfers balance
In August 2013, the combined current account and capital transfers balance (corresponding to the economy’s external financing requirements) showed a surplus of €1.2 billion, compared with €2.0 billion in August 2012. In the January-August 2013 period, this balance showed a surplus of €4.4 billion, against a deficit of €2.1 billion in the same period of 2012.

Financial account balance
In August 2013, non-residents’ direct investment in Greece showed a net inflow of €21 million (against a net outflow of €270 million in the same month of 2012), without any remarkable transactions. Residents’ direct investment abroad increased by €23 million.

Under portfolio investment, a net outflow of €1.1 billion was recorded (compared with a net outflow of €3.5 billion in August 2012), mainly reflecting a decrease in non-residents’ holdings of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills (outflow). This decline was partly offset by a drop in residents’ investment in foreign bonds and Treasury bills (inflow).

As regards “other” investment, a net inflow of €526 million was recorded (compared with a net inflow of €2.3 billion in the same month of 2012), which is attributable, on the one hand, to an increase in non-residents’ deposit and repo holdings in Greece (inflow) (including the TARGET account) and, on the other hand, to a decrease in resident credit institutions’ and institutional investors’ deposit and repo holdings abroad (inflow). These developments were partly offset by a €1.0 billion decline in the outstanding debt of the public and the private sector to non-residents (outflow) (of which €685 million concern public sector borrowing from the IMF).

In the January-August 2013 period, non-residents’ direct investment in Greece showed a net inflow of €256 million, whereas residents’ direct investment abroad showed a net inflow (disinvestment) of €671 million.

Under portfolio investment, a net outflow of €10 billion was recorded (compared with a net outflow of €75.6 billion in the same period of 2012), due to a drop in non-residents’ holdings of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills. An outflow was also recorded as a result of an increase in resident institutional investors’ holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills.

Under “other” investment, a net inflow of €5.1 billion was recorded (compared with a net inflow of €78 billion in the same period of 2012). This is chiefly attributable to a €27.9 billion increase in the outstanding debt of the public and the private sector to non-residents, as well as to a €16.2 billion decline in resident institutional investors’ deposit and repo holdings abroad (inflows). These developments were partly offset by a €38.2 billion decrease in non-residents’ deposit and repo holdings in Greece (outflow).

At end-August 2013, Greece’s reserve assets stood at €4.8 billion, compared with €5.5 billion at end-August 2012.

Note: Balance of payments data for September 2013 will be released on 19 November 2013.

Related link: Balance of payments: Αugust 2013 - Table 

 

 

 

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