Brazil posted a trade surplus of US$ 4.99 billion in March, the Economy Ministry said, significantly smaller than the same month a year ago thanks to a strong rise in imports. The trade surplus last month fell 22.3% to US$ 4.99 billion from US$ 6.42 billion a year ago, although that was up more than a third from February’s surplus of US$ 3.67 billion.
Exports totaled US$ 18.12 billion, down 1.0 percent from March last year, while imports totaled US$ 13.13 billion, up 5.1 percent from the same month last year, Economy Ministry figures showed.
All else being equal, a shrinking trade surplus is a drag on economic growth. Last week, Brazil’s central bank cut its 2019 growth forecast to 2.0 percent from 2.4%, noting that net trade is expected to shave 0.2 percentage points off overall growth.
Foreign trade secretary Lucas Ferraz said on Monday he expects Brazil’s trade surplus this year to total US$ 50.1 billion, on exports of US$ 245.9 billion and imports of US$ 195.8 billion.
That would be the third largest surplus on record, Ferraz noted, but crucially it would be some 15% down from last year’s surplus of US$ 58.66 billion, and 25% down from the year before that.
The data for March showed a 13% jump in imports of capital goods, including autos, while commodities exports rose 7.9%. Exports of manufactured goods fell 6.5%.