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Balance of Payments: July 2021

20/09/2021 - Press Releases

  • In July 2021, the current account registered a surplus, against a deficit in the same month a year earlier, mainly due to an improvement in the services balance and, to a lesser extent, the primary and secondary income accounts, which was partly offset by a deterioration in the balance of goods.
  • In January‑July 2021, the current account deficit dropped year‑on‑year, due to an improvement in the balance of services and the primary income account, which was partly offset by a deterioration of mainly the balance of goods.

Current account

In July 2021, the current account balance showed a surplus of €538 million, against a deficit of €797 million in the same month of 2020.

The rise in the deficit of the balance of goods is accounted for by an increase in imports larger than that in exports. Specifically, exports grew by 30.7% and 7.2% at current and constant prices, respectively, while imports rose by 34.2% and 10.7% at current and constant prices, respectively. In particular, non‑oil exports of goods grew by 26.9% and 19.7% at current and constant prices, respectively, and non‑oil imports increased by 22.7% and 19% at current and constant prices, respectively.

The services surplus rose, primarily as a result of an improvement in the travel balance and, less so, of a shift of the other services balance from deficit to surplus. By contrast, the transport balance deteriorated year‑on‑year. Non‑residents’ arrivals and the relevant receipts grew remarkably by 240.2% and 235.6%, respectively, year‑on‑year. However, travel receipts turned out at 61.4% of their level in July 2019. The surplus of the transport balance fell by 31.2%, although the sea transport balance improved.

The deficit of the primary income account narrowed, mainly due to lower net interest, dividend and profit payments, compared with the same month a year earlier. The secondary income account balance improved, reflecting a year‑on‑year decline in the net payments of the other sectors (excluding general government).[1]

In the January‑July 2021 period, the current account deficit recorded a decrease of €889 million year‑on‑year and stood at €7.0 billion.

A rise in the deficit of the balance of goods is due to the fact that imports increased more than exports in absolute terms. In more detail, exports grew by 29.6% and 13.9% at current and constant prices, respectively, while imports rose by 25.4% at current prices and by 7.9% at constant prices. Specifically, non‑oil exports and imports of goods grew at around the same rate (23.7% and 23.4%, respectively) at current prices; at constant prices they increased by 19.6% and 22.1%, respectively.

A rise in the services surplus is primarily due to an improvement in the travel services balance and, to a lesser extent, in the other services balance, which was partly offset by a decline in the surplus of the transport balance. Non‑residents’ arrivals rose by 51.4%, while the relevant receipts grew by 139.7% year‑on‑year, representing 37.1% of their 2019 level. Net transport receipts dropped by 23.4%.

Finally, the primary income account turned from deficit to surplus, mainly due to a decline in net interest, dividend and profit payments, while the surplus in the secondary income account decreased slightly.


Capital account

In July 2021, the capital account deficit doubled year‑on‑year and stood at €48 million. In January‑July 2021, the capital account surplus rose by €96.1 million year‑on‑year and stood at €666 million.


Combined current and capital account

In July 2021, the combined current and capital account (corresponding to the economy's external financing requirements) showed a surplus of €490 million, against a deficit of €821 million year‑on‑year. In the January‑July 2021 period, the deficit of the combined current and capital account dropped to €6.3 billion, from €7.3 billion in the same period of 2020.


Financial account

In July 2021, under direct investment, residents' external assets decreased by €50 million and residents' external liabilities rose by €441 million.

Under portfolio investment, an increase in residents’ external assets is almost exclusively attributable to a rise of €2.9 billion in residents’ holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills. A decrease in residents’ external liabilities is due to a drop of €1.3 billion in non‑residents’ holdings of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills, which was partly offset by a €663 million increase in non‑residents’ holdings of shares of Greek firms.

Under other investment, a rise in residents' external assets reflects a statistical adjustment (of €488 million) associated with the issuance of banknotes and an increase of €366 million in loans extended to non‑residents. A rise in their liabilities reflects mainly an increase of €3.1 billion in non‑residents’ deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included).

In the January‑July 2021 period, under direct investment, residents’ external assets increased by €726 million and residents’ external liabilities, which represent non‑residents’ direct investment in Greece, rose by €2.8 billion.

Under portfolio investment, an increase in residents' external assets is chiefly attributable to a rise of €14.5 billion in residents' holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills. An increase in residents' external liabilities is due to a rise of €1.3 billion in non‑residents' holdings of shares of Greek firms and an increase of €938 million in non‑residents’ holdings of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills.

Under other investment, a rise in residents' external assets reflects mainly an increase of €2.6 billion in loans extended to non‑residents. A rise in residents’ external liabilities reflects chiefly an increase of €12.2 billion in non‑residents’ deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included) and, secondarily, a €5.7 billion rise in the outstanding debt to non‑residents.

At end‑July 2021, Greece’s foreign reserve assets stood at €9.4 billion, almost at the same level as in July 2020. 


Related information:

Balance of payments data for August 2021 will be released on 21 October 2021.



[1] It should be noted that in July 2021, as in the same month of 2020, ANFA/SMP profits were transferred to the Greek government. This transfer is recorded under the secondary income account.

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