Signs of economic growth returning to Greece

Greece posted a current account surplus in 2013, the first time since official data collection began in 1948, the country’s central bank said on Wednesday.

After seeing the recession ease in 2013 – the economy contracted by 3.7 per cent on average in 2013, outperforming the previous forecast of four per cent decline – and with the Greek government expecting a large primary surplus for 2013, the news of a current account surplus is yet another sign that the economy is well on track to recovery.

Current accounts were helped on by tourism receipts. Tourism, the country’s biggest industry, rose 16 per cent year-on-year to 169 million euro in December, bringing total revenue in 2013 to a record 12 billion euro, up 15 per cent from the previous year.

The Greek economy has always struggled with current account deficits. The current accounts surplus is, largely, the result of imports dropping dramatically due to the economic crisis.

However, the figures give a boost to the coalition government of prime minister Antonis Samaras, who would like to show that years of austerity are now bearing fruit. With analysts pointing out that Greece’s foreseen return to growth could still be derailed by adverse shocks, the country’s government – facing a tough local election battle in May – is determined to avoid calling an early general election.

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