Brazil's foreign trade surplus more than quadrupled this year to more than $13 billion, the government reported Monday.
"The results are extraordinary," said Brazilian Development, Industry and Commerce Minister Sergio Amaral.
Earlier this year, the government forecast a trade surplus of between $5 billion and $6 billion.
The much greater surplus is due mainly to devaluation of the real, the local currency, over the course of the year. A devalued currency makes exports more attractive to buyers abroad and also makes costly imports even more expensive.
According to government forecasts, the trade surplus will increase in 2003, when Luiz Fernando Furlan - former board chairman of Brazil's leading meat processing company, which has aggressively targeted foreign markets - takes over the country's trade policy. Furlan was named to head the Development, Industry and Commerce Ministry by President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who takes office on Wednesday.
Last year, Brazil posted a trade surplus of $2.64 billion - its first surplus since 1994.