C/A deficit widens in first half

Greece’s current account deficit widened further in the first half of the year as a higher oil import bill bloated the country’s trade gap, according to the central bank. Data from the Bank of Greece released yesterday showed the current account deficit rose 14 percent year-on-year, widening by 2.37 billion euros to -19.13 billion. Halfway through the year, it is already at 7.8 percent of estimated 2008 GDP, and showing no letup. The trade deficit rose by 3.74 billion euros in the first six months, with -1.94 billion attributed to the net oil import bill. «On the positive side, we have an increase in exports and the increase in net travel and transport receipts. Despite this, the gap widened due to the huge increase in oil costs by about 50 percent and the increase in imports (excluding shipping and oil),» Alpha Bank economist Dimitris Maroulis told Reuters. Other economists said that the growth is high, adding that the rapid correction in commodities and oil prices is likely to have a favorable impact on the figures.