he increase comes as the Greek fleet continues to expand along with the central bank’s decision to introduce a "significant change" to the way sea transport accounts are compiled, which the bank says better reflects the industry’s contribution.
According to the BoG, the services surplus in September rose mainly due to the improvement in the transport balance, as net receipts from maritime transport were up by 29% on a year ago. From the beginning of the year to September, the Greek shipping sector poured EUR12.178bn, ($13.76bn) into the country's coffers compared to EUR10.79bn in the corresponding period of 2017 and EUR9.2bn in the nine-month period of 2016.
In the two-year period the shipping revenue appears to have increased by 30% and in this year more than 12%, based on performance over the nine months.
Rising charter rates
The bank credits this recovery to the rise in time charter rates, the choice of Greek shipping to use the Greek financial system, as well as to the on-going increase in the size of the Greek fleet.
So far this year Greek shipowners have bought some 275 ships in the secondhand market and have placed orders at world shipyards for 121 newbuildings, for a total of 396 vessels, for an overall investment of $10.4bn. At the same time 164 ships have been sold raising in excess of $3bn.
Growth in the fleet lifts it to some 4,746 vessels of over 1,000 gt, of 365.45m dwt, which according to the Union of Greek Shipowners accounts for 19.89% of the global merchant fleet in deadweight terms and 49.15% of the EU's total fleet.
Changes in accounting
After a sharp decrease in shipping receipts since 2015 the BoG recently introduced changes to the way sea transport accounts are compiled. This means balance of payments will reflect international shipping transactions carried out within or outside the domestic banking system, in line with international balance of payment compilation guidelines, the bank said.
"This change was deemed necessary in view of an apparent sharp decrease in shipping receipts and payments from 2015 onwards, following the imposition of capital controls and the concomitant decline in the intermediation of the domestic banking system in shipping transactions," said the bank, adding the shift to alternative data sources also entails a revision of the existing maritime transport data series for the period from January 2015 onwards.
This approach allows for a detailed calculation of receipts and expenses on a monthly basis, based on databases that are maintained by international agencies and recommended by international organisations, including the IMF, the bank said.
The changes were made after input from shipping experts in academia and the industry last year and items affected are the imports and exports of ships; goods procured in ports by carriers; sea transport services; repair services; insurance services; primary income like labour and investment income; secondary income; and financial transactions, loans and deposits.