Brazilian trade balance registers US$ 1.482 bi surplus in March

Apr, 02, 2021 Posted by Ruth Hollard

Week 202114

The Brazilian trade balance registered the lowest result for the month of March in six years due to its imports of oil platforms. Brazil exported US$ 1.482 billion more than it imported in March, 63% less than in March 2020 according to the daily average criterion, and the lowest balance for the month since 2015.

With the March results, the YTD trade balance reaches a surplus of US$ 1.648 billion for the first quarter of 2021, the smallest balance for the period since 2015. In that year, the balance had registered a deficit of US $ 5.577 billion in the first three months.

In March, exports totaled US$ 24.505 billion, an increase of 27.8% by the daily average in relation to the same month last year. Due to the purchase of oil platforms, imports reached US$ 23.023 billion, an increase of 51.7% since the same month last year.


Last month, agricultural exports grew 34.5% in comparison with March 2020, driven by the beginning of the harvest of some products such as corn and coffee, and by the 11.5% rise in the international prices of commodities. The largest increases were observed in sales of raw cotton (+ 59.5%), soy (+ 36.9%), and unroasted coffee (+ 24.9%).

Packed by a 58.4% increase in the price of various ores, extractive industry sales increased 72.6% compared to March 2020. This was mostly driven by copper ore (+ 267.7%) and iron (+ 152.7%). Manufacturing industry exports grew 8.3% in the same comparison, driven by sugars and molasses (+ 45.3%), semi-finished iron and steel alloys (+ 48.2%), and iron or steelworks and other common metal articles (+ 158.5%).


Regarding imports, the import of the oil platforms increased foreign purchases. Without including these operations, the trade balance would have registered a surplus of US $ 6.988 billion in March and would have increased in relation to the result of March 2017, when the surplus totaled US$ 7.136 billion.

Until the middle of the past decade, Brazil registered oil platforms as exports to Petrobras subsidiaries abroad; in practice, these platforms never left the country but were nonetheless recorded as exports. In compliance with Repetro, the new tax regime for the sector, several platforms are being registered in Brazil and are being accounted for as imports.

Other highlights in imports were the increase in purchases of natural gas (+ 229.8%), medicines and pharmaceutical products (+ 52.9%), and soybeans (+ 215%). The devaluation of the real, which increases the price of goods from other countries, contributed to the increase in the imported value of these products.


Despite the fall in the trade balance in March, the Ministry of Economy’s Foreign Trade Secretariat revised its projections and increased the trade surplus forecast for 2021 to US$ 89.4 billion, which would set a new record. The previous estimate, released in January, was $ 53 billion.

According to the Ministry of Economy, the sharp rise in the price of commodities recorded in recent months will contribute to the improvement of the trade balance.

Source: Agência Brasil

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