Friday, July 11, 2014

Greece's Trade Statistics --- Huge Differences Between Bank of Greece and ELSTAT!

There must be a very significant difference in the reporting of foreign trade between the Bank of Greece (BoG) and ELSTAT. As an example, I show below only the figures for 2013 (EUR; 000's omitted) but the same differences occurred in previous years.



Exports 22.535,0 53.014,0
Imports 39.764,0 57.815,0

----------- -----------
Trade deficit -17.229,0 -4.801,0

Differences of such magnitude must mean that the BoG and ELSTAT follow totally different rules for reporting Greece's foreign trade. I have inquired several times, even at the BoG, but I have not been able to get a satisfactory explanation.

It would all be alright if the differences netted out and resulted in the same trade balance. However, they don't. And it does make a difference whether a trade deficit is 17,2 BEUR or 4,8 BEUR.

Post Scriptum
Thanks to an ELSTAT link provided by one of the commentators below, I have now been able to shed a bit more light on this issue. When the BoG talks about exports/imports, they only include goods. When ELSTAT talks about exports/imports, they include goods, services and cross-border personal spending. That, of course, is not quite proper because exports/imports are goods and nothing else. But even when looking at the export/import of goods only, ELSTAT's figures differ from those of the BoG by a few billion.

The way ELSTAT calculates 'their' exports/imports, the balance is more affine to the current account balance. However, it is NOT the same as the current account balance because that also includes things like other income, current transfers, etc.

Bottom-line: it would be a lot more convincing if ELSTAT and the BoG reported the same figures when it comes to exports/imports of the country.


  1. Dear Klaus,

    it seems indeed difficult to clarify these differences from publicly available sources, or it requires considerable effort if you are not very familiar with these sources, especially if different definitions apply.
    In fact, a possible explanation could be that the words "imports" and "export" are used with different meanings. They can relate to merchandise trade, that is to the results of foreign trade statistics, where trade in services is not included, or to the external transactions in the definition of national accounts, which do include trade in services. Greece having a surplus on services (mainly due to tourism and also sea transportation services, I would assume), that might explain the differences in results.

  2. It's something which needs clarification Klaus. EL STAT numbers in what document do you found them?
    I haven't found the exact numbers of EL STAT you present. (I thought for a moment we become Germany!)

    I found this

    in page 6/10

    It's confusing how EL STAT calculate the numbers for example in page 6 of 10 what is adding or deducting to present these numbers. Probably has some pattern which is not explained.

    Look and something very interesting for me which explains partly why still in recession.

    Quarterly Gross fixed capital formation by Asset is at low of 15 years but in machinery and metal products there is a small increase from Q4 2013. Interesting?


    1. I am a fan of all the BoG statistics because they are so comprehensive and well put together. It's fun analyzing them. The ones about the trade figures are here:

      From ELSTAT, I use their bi-monthly report on the Greek economy. The trade figures are taken from table 2 on page 9 (GDP in millions; production approach):

    2. Please refer to the PS which I have added in the article.

    3. You are right in PS.
      BoG statistics are simple and easy to understand even with limited knowledge.ELSTAT's statistics really need more detailed data as many numbers can't see them.


  3. Just as a fun fact...have you ever seen a questionnaire compiled by ELSTAT ??? You'll laugh your heart out, trust me....Suggest you go with BoG.... Take into consideration though that in the past, both organisations have co-operated in order to 'play with figures' and achieve specific goals..

  4. As for goods, you should check which one of the two includes gold.