Argentina: Trade balance surplus broadly unchanged on lower imports
May 21, 2014
In April, exports plunged a sharp 13.2% over the same month last year. The decline followed the 15.9% drop recorded in March and contrasted the 9.3% increase recorded in the same month last year. The reading was underpinned by a 48.0% drop in grain exports as well as by a 24.0% decline in manufacturing products.
A month-on-month comparison does not corroborate the gloomy picture suggested by the annual figures. Exports expanded 6.3% on a seasonally-adjusted basis in April, which contrasted the 9.2% decline recorded in the previous month.
Imports dropped 14.2% annually in April (April 2013: +32.4% year-on-year), which followed the 4.1% contraction observed in March and marked the sharpest decrease since September 2012. As a result, the trade surplus reached USD 926 million, which was broadly unchanged from the USD 994 million recorded in April 2013. Moreover, this was much higher than the USD 41 million surplus recorded in March. In the last 12 months, the trade balance posted a USD 6.6 billion surplus, which represented the lowest reading since December 2001.
The trade balance surplus will likely improve in the coming months as the export season peaks between April and June. In addition, the country is expected to harvest a record 55 million tons of soybeans this year, which will boost grain exports. The country, which has had no access to international capital markets since defaulting in 2001, depends heavily on commodity exports to draw the foreign exchange reserves required to fulfill its debt obligations.