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Balance of Payments: April 2019

20/06/2019 - Press Releases

Current account

In April 2019, the current account showed a deficit of €1.4 billion, down by €85 million year-on-year, due to an improvement in the goods and services balances, which was partly offset by a deterioration in the primary and secondary income accounts.

The decrease in the deficit of the balance of goods by €99 million is attributable to a decline in the net oil import bill, while the non-oil goods deficit increased slightly (by €62 million), as relevant imports rose, in absolute terms, more than exports. Total exports of goods grew by 11.6% (7.0% at constant prices). Specifically, non-oil exports rose by 11.4% (both at current and at constant prices).

The improvement in the services surplus is due to an increase in net receipts from transport services, which is attributable to an improvement in the sea transport balance by 9.5%. The travel balance deteriorated slightly, since the increase in relevant payments more than offset the 6.9% rise in receipts. In addition, non-residents’ arrivals declined by 11.3%.

In the January-April 2019 period, the current account showed a deficit of €5.1 billion, up by €335 million year-on-year. This development is mainly accounted for by a worsening of the secondary income account. During the same period, a rise in the deficit of the balance of goods was largely offset by an increase in the services surplus; as a result, the deficit in the total balance of goods and services showed a small increase year-on-year. Lastly, the primary income account improved slightly.

The deficit of the balance of goods grew, mainly owing to the higher net import bill for goods excluding oil. The oil balance also worsened, but to a smaller extent. Total exports of goods rose by 3.6% at current prices and 0.3% at constant prices, while non-oil exports of goods grew by 6.1% (both at current and at constant prices). Total imports of goods increased by 5.6% at current prices and 6.2% at constant prices.

The rise in the services surplus is attributable to an improvement, primarily in the transport balance and, secondarily, in the travel and other services balances. Transport receipts (mainly sea transports) rose by 9.8%. At the same time, non-residents’ arrivals and the relevant receipts rose by 0.5% and 22.8%, respectively.

Lastly, the primary income account improved slightly, while the secondary income account registered a deficit, against a surplus in the same period of the previous year. This mainly reflects developments in the general government balance.

Capital account

In April 2019, the capital account registered a surplus, against a deficit during the same month a year earlier, while in the January-April 2019 period, the capital account surplus increased by €30 million year-on-year.

Combined current and capital account

In April 2019, the combined current and capital account (corresponding to the economy’s external financing requirements) showed a deficit of €1.4 billion, down by €117 million year-on-year. In the January-April 2019 period, the combined current and capital account showed a deficit of €4.9 billion, up by €304 million year-on-year.

Financial account

In April 2019, under direct investment, residents' net external assets rose by €71 million; the most important transaction concerned the participation of NBG Pangaea Real Estate Investment Company in the capital increase of Vibrana Holdings Ltd (Cyprus). Residents' net external liabilities, which represent non-residents' direct investment in Greece, rose by €378 million. The most important transaction was the participation of AMC Oak SARL (Luxembourg) in the capital increase of Praxia Bank S.A.

Under portfolio investment, a net decrease in residents' external assets is chiefly attributable to a decline of €235 million in residents' holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills. A net decrease in their liabilities is mainly due to a drop of €1.6 billion in non-residents' holdings of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills.

Under other investment, a net decrease in residents' external assets mainly reflects a decline of €707 million in residents' deposit and repo holdings abroad. A net increase in liabilities reflects mainly a rise of €1.7 billion in non-residents' deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included).

In the January-April 2019 period, under direct investment, residents' net external assets increased by €154 million and residents' net external liabilities, which represent non-residents' direct investment in Greece, rose by €1.2 billion.

Under portfolio investment, a net decrease in residents' external assets is chiefly attributable to a decline of €1.2 billion in residents' holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills. A net increase in their liabilities is mainly due to a rise of €4.2 billion in non-residents' holdings of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills.

Under other investment, a net decrease in residents' external assets mainly reflects a decline of €2.3 billion in residents' deposit and repo holdings abroad. A net decline in liabilities reflects chiefly a drop of €4.6 billion in non-residents' deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included), as well as a €867 million decrease in the outstanding debt of the public and the private sector to non-residents.

At end-April 2019, Greece’s reserve assets stood at €6.4 billion, compared with €6.6 billion in April 2018.

Note: Balance of payments data for May 2019 will be released on 19 July 2019.

Related link: Balance of Payments: April 2019 - Table

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