Record-breaking Q1 container imports up more than 20%

Apr, 27, 2021 Posted by Ruth Hollard

Week 202118

Brazilian container imports and exports registered a record high in the first quarter of 2021. The March numbers were very strong. Thus, the record compared to the first quarter of last year was surprising. There were 1.418 million TEU in total, compared to 1.246 TEU in the first quarter of 2020. This represents an increase of almost 14%.

Imports, in particular, reached impressive levels, easily exceeding export volumes and breaking all records. Container exports also reached record levels but remained well under the import levels.

The increase is attributed to several factors including a freed-up demand after the decrease in imports last year due to the pandemic. Another reason would be that Brazilian producers – many of them from the agricultural sector – have been investing in expanding their production to take advantage of low interest rates. With the devalued real favoring exports and the high demand for commodities and food, importers are also bringing in more inputs to help increase productivity in order to export the final product.

According to preliminary data from DataLiner, imports grew by more than 20% compared to the first quarter of 2020. They reached approximately 722,000 TEU, almost 120,000 TEU more than last year. Exports also reached a record level, registering 696,000 TEU in the quarter, almost 5% more than the 643,000 TEU registered in 2020.

Traditionally, the first quarter of the year is the weakest. The third and fourth quarters are generally the strongest. The economic outlook is that Brazilian GDP will grow 3.7% in 2021 according to the IMF. However, if the pace of the first quarter continues throughout the year, that number may be even higher.

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