Balance of Payments: September 2015
20/11/2015 - Press Releases
Balance of Payments: September 2015 (1)
In September 2015, the current account showed a surplus of €838 million, up by €228 million year-on-year. This development is mainly attributable to a decline in the deficit of the balance of goods, which offset the fall observed in the surplus of the services balance. Moreover, the primary and secondary income accounts showed a slight improvement.
The deficit of the balance of goods shrank by €663 million year-on-year, mainly because of a drop in imports, which was largely due to the imposition of capital controls. Exports also declined, albeit to a lesser extent. It should be noted that in September the value of goods exports excluding oil and ships did not change considerably.
The surplus of the services balance fell by €502 million, primarily as a result of lower net transport (mainly sea transport) receipts. The surplus of the travel balance also declined by €100 million, as a result of lower travel receipts, while the number of non-residents' arrivals in September did not show any remarkable change year-on-year. Finally, the other services balance improved.
As a result of the above-mentioned developments, imports of goods and services declined by 25.2%, i.e. more strongly than the corresponding exports (19.9%), and the surplus of the balance of goods and services rose by €162 million.
In the January-September 2015 period, the current account showed a surplus of €1.8 billion, compared with €53 million in the corresponding period of 2014. This reflects the improved balance of goods and services, which registered a surplus of €2.1 billion, against a deficit of €789 million in the same period of 2014, mainly due to the reduced import bill. Overall, receipts from exports of goods and services fell by 6.8%, but the corresponding import bill decreased at a faster pace of 12.9%. In the same period, the primary and secondary income accounts deteriorated.
The deficit of the balance of goods declined by €3.7 billion, due to an improvement in all subaccounts. More specifically, receipts from exports of goods excluding oil and ships rose by 6.7%, while the corresponding import bill 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-September 2015 period, total non-residents’ arrivals increased by 8.6% year-on-year, while the corresponding receipts grew by 4.7%.
In September 2015, the capital account did not show any remarkable change, while in the January-September 2015 period, the capital account showed a surplus of €553 million, down by €1.2 billion year-on-year.
Combined current and capital account
In September 2015, the combined current and capital account (corresponding to the economy's external financing requirements) showed a surplus of €776 million, up by €223 million year-on-year. In the January-September 2015 period, a surplus of €2.3 billion was recorded, up by €484 million year-on-year.
In September 2015, no remarkable transactions were recorded under direct investment.
Under portfolio investment, a net increase of €2.7 billion in residents' external assets reflects mainly a rise in residents' holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills (which largely reflects Bank of Greece holdings). At the same time, residents’ net external liabilities increased by €111 million.
Under other investment, a net decrease of €1.1 billion in residents' external assets is mainly attributable to the statistical adjustment of €704 million related to the issue of banknotes. On the liabilities side, a €1.3 billion net increase reflects a net rise of €3.4 billion in non-residents' deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included), which was largely offset by a net decrease of €1.3 billion in the outstanding debt of the public and the private sector to non-residents (including principal payments of €1,540 million to the IMF by the Greek State).
In the January-September 2015 period, residents' net assets from direct investment abroad rose by €292 million, while the corresponding liabilities that represent non-residents' direct investment in Greece dropped by €280 million.
Under portfolio investment, a net decrease of €539 million in residents’ external assets was mainly due to a drop of €7.6 billion in residents’ holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills, which offset a rise of €7.0 billion in residents’ investment in shares of foreign firms. Moreover, residents’ net external liabilities fell by €9.7 billion, mainly on account of a decline in non-residents’ investment in Greek government bonds and Treasury bills and in shares of Greek firms.
Lastly, under other investment, a net increase in residents’ external assets and liabilities mainly reflects the statistical adjustment associated with the issuance of banknotes (2). In addition, regarding assets, in the January-September 2015 period, residents' deposit and repo holdings abroad registered a net increase of €3.2 billion. On the liabilities side, a net increase of €15.8 billion in non-residents’ deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included), as well as a further almost equal increase owing to the statistical adjustment related to the issuance of banknotes, were partly offset by a decrease in residents’ outstanding debt.
At end-September 2015, Greece's reserve assets stood at €5.1 billion, compared with €5 billion at end-September 2014.
Note: Balance of payments statistics for October 2015 will be released on 21 December 2015.
Related link: Balance of Payments: September 2015 - Table
(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-September 2015 period, both assets and liabilities registered an increase on account of the statistical adjustment related to the issuance of banknotes, which came to €16.7 billion and €16.1 billion respectively.