ECONOMY

Current account deficit swells

Current account deficit swells

The current account balance has once again set the alarm bells ringing, as its deficit in November was twice as high as a year earlier (as well as two years earlier), reaching up to 2.515 billion euros – the highest since 2011.

In the first 11 months of last year the current account deficit came to €8.9 billion, which was below the €10.3 billion of 2020 thanks to tourism, which rebounded, but over four times that in 2019, when it had amounted to €2.1 billion.

The main reason for the deterioration of the figures, especially in November, was the soaring of fuel prices, with Greece dependent on imports. Still, in January-November 2021 there was also an increase in the goods deficit (not including fuel), as imports increased due to the recovery of the economy.

The simultaneous positive course of exports did not suffice to offset the deficit, as imports are some 70% higher than exports in absolute figures. Tourism did cover some distance compared to 2020, but remained a long way off the 2019 figures.

Imports and exports followed a similar course over the January-November period last year: Exports rose 36.4% in current prices according to Bank of Greece statistics, while imports grew 35.6%. The exports of goods without including fuel products increased 27.5% at current prices, as imports (fuel excluded) expanded 27.1%. However, in absolute figures, imports posted far greater growth than exports, so their almost equal rise in percentage terms translates into a significant increase for the current account deficit.

Exports of goods (not including fuel and ships) came to €26.3 billion in the first 11 months of 2021, against €20.6 billion a year earlier. Imports amounted to €44.1 billion over the same period, against €34.7 billion a year earlier.

The balance of services, which includes tourism, highlights the blow to the economy from the pandemic, and the 2021 rebound: There was a surplus of €12.7 billion in the year to end-November, against €7 billion in the same period in 2020, and €20.6 billion in 2019.