Brazil’s record trade surplus in March misses market expectations

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Ship is loaded at Port of Santos

By Marcela Ayres

BRASILIA – Brazil posted a record trade surplus for March, of $7.4 billion, official data showed on Friday, but the number was well below market forecasts amid expectations that exports would rise as commodity prices spike.

Economists projected a $9.01 billion surplus for the month, according to a Reuters poll.

Exports were up 25% over March last year to $29.1 billion, a record for any given month. But imports rose further, by 27.1%, to $21.7 billion, the Economy Ministry reported.

In both cases, rising prices guided the results.

While the volume of imported products dropped 7.1% compared with the same month last year, prices gained 29.5%. The volume of exported goods increased 1.8%, while prices grew 17.2% in March.

In the first quarter, Brazil’s trade surplus was $11.3 billion, up from $8.1 billion in the same period last year.

For 2022, the Economy Ministry updated its forecast to a trade surplus of $111.6 billion, much higher than the $79.4 billion estimated before, on the back of a surge in goods sold abroad

The outlook for exports was revised up to $348.8 billion in 2022, compared with a January projection of $284.3 billion.

“The conflict between Russia and Ukraine led to higher prices and generates expectations of higher exported value,” said the under secretary for foreign trade intelligence and statistics, Herlon Brandao.

Brazil is a major exporter of soybeans, iron ore, pulp, sugar, beef and crude petroleum.

The ministry estimated that imports will total $237.2 billion this year, up from $204.9 billion seen previously.

(Reporting by Marcela Ayres; Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler))