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Brazil posts $19.68b trade surplus for 2015

Brazil posts $19.68b trade surplus for 2015

SÃO PAULO: Brazil posted an annual trade surplus of $19.68 billion for 2015, but this rare piece of good economic news had more do with the nation’s weak economy than strong foreign demand for Brazilian goods.
Nevertheless, it was an improvement over 2014, when Brazil posted a trade deficit of $4 billion, its first negative result since 2000, when it posted a deficit of $731.7 million.
In December, Brazil posted a trade surplus of $6.24 billion, up from $1.2 billion in November.
A weakened currency has provided a tailwind for Brazilian exporters by making locally produced goods cheaper in foreign markets. Pulp exports increased around 5% last year.
Still, Brazil’s rosier trade figures were a reflection of its moribund economy as imports have fallen sharply. The nation’s exports totaled $191.13 billion in 2015, down 15% from 2014, while imports declined 25.2% to $171.45 billion.
Brazil’s GDP is projected to have declined by around 3.7% in 2015; unemployment is rising, inflation has surpassed 10% and the nation’s currency, the real, has slipped more than 30% against the U.S. dollar last year. All those factors have crimped demand by Brazilian consumers and businesses for foreign goods, which have gotten more expensive with the real’s decline.
Meanwhile, low commodity prices continue to weigh on Brazilian exports, due mainly to tepid demand from China, which is Brazil’s largest trading partner and a huge consumer of commodities, such as iron ore and soy.
Brazil’s economy is expected to contract by 2.95% this year, according to a weekly central bank survey of 100 economists published earlier Monday. The same survey showed that economists expect Brazil to post a trade surplus of $35 billion this year.