Mexico: Trade surplus hides downbeat manufacturing in February
March 27, 2019
Merchandise trade recorded a sizable USD 1.2 billion surplus in February, up from the USD 0.9 billion windfall registered in the same month a year ago and in line with analysts’ expectations. Despite the rosy headline, February’s surplus was almost entirely due to a drop in oil imports related to the transitory bottlenecks arising from efforts to halt fuel theft. Moreover, the result contrasted the USD 4.8 billion deficit recorded in January.
Export growth on an annual basis slid to 3.5% from 5.7% in January, hurt by manufacturing exports. For its part, automotive-sector export growth fell sharply from a month earlier. Import growth, meanwhile, fell to 2.7% from 6.1% in January. Intermediate-good import growth—typically, a bellwether for manufacturing output—slipped from a month earlier. On the upside, consumer-good import growth ticked higher.
As such, the 12-month trailing trade deficit narrowed to USD 13.8 billion from USD 14.1 billion in January.
Author: Christopher Thomas, Economist