Greece’s current account surplus grew to 1.65 billion euros in 2014, from 1.08 billion in 2013, reflecting an increase in the services surplus by 2.8 billion euros, with the balance of goods and services recording a surplus of 1.8 billion euros last year, from a deficit of 251 million euros in 2013, the Bank of Greece said on Friday.
The central bank, in a report, said that in December 2014, the current account balance showed a deficit of 870 million euros, up by 626 million year-on-year. This development is mainly attributable to the fact that the current transfers balance showed a deficit, against a surplus in the same month of 2013, on account of a decline in general government net current receipts from the EU. In the same month, the income account deficit grew, while the trade deficit contracted and the surplus of the services balance recorded a small increase.
The trade deficit narrowed by 171 million euros year-on-year, owing to a significant fall in the net oil import bill. By contrast, net payments for purchases of ships and other goods increased. It should be noted that export receipts rose, while the overall import bill did not change considerably, since the higher import bill for ships and other goods was offset by the lower oil import bill. The surplus of the services balance widened by just 25 million year-on-year. By contrast, the travel and other services balances deteriorated.
In 2014, the current account balance showed a surplus of 1.7 billion euros, compared with 1.1 billion in the previous year. In addition, the overall balance of goods and services recorded a surplus of 1.8 billion, against a deficit of 251 million in 2013. This development is attributable to a significant improvement in the services balance. It should be noted that, in 2014, total exports of goods and services rose by 8.4 pct (compared with 1.9 pct in 2013). In more detail, receipts from exports of goods increased by 4.9 pct, while receipts from services rose by 11.2 pct. The trade deficit grew by 747 million euros in 2014, mainly on account of higher net payments for purchases of ships. By contrast, the net oil import bill fell. Finally, the trade deficit excluding oil and ships widened, as a result of the higher import bill, which offset the higher export receipts.
The 2.8 billion euros rise in the surplus of the services balance in 2014 is due to higher net receipts from travel, transport and other services. Specifically, travel spending by non-residents in Greece grew by 10.6 pct compared with 2013, reflecting a 23 pct rise in non-residentsʼ arrivals. The income account deficit fell by 233 million euros in 2014, mainly as a result of lower net interest payments.
In 2014, non-residentsʼ direct investment in Greece recorded a net inflow of 1.6 billion euros, while residentsʼ direct investment abroad showed a net outflow of 645 million.
At the end of December 2014, Greeceʼs reserve assets stood at 5.1 billion euros, compared with 4.2 billion at end-December 2013.
Greek merchant shipping fleet down in numbers, up in capacity
Greek merchant shipping fleet fell in numbers but grew in volume as shipowners renewed their fleet with larger vessels. Hellenic Statistical Authority, in a report released on Friday, said that the number of Greek merchant shipping fleet fell 2.2 pct in December to 1,855 vessels, while total capacity of the Greek fleet rose 1.9 pct in the same month, compared with December 2013.