Brazil achieved a trade surplus of US$4.86bn in April 2016, with exports reaching US$15.37bn, up 1.4% year on year. This is the country’s best-ever result for the month of April.
Imports totalled US$10.51bn, down 28.3% from April 2015, but stable compared to March this year.
In the first four months of this year, the Brazilian trade balance reached a US$13.5bn surplus, more than correcting the US$5.06bn deficit of the same period last year.
In a statement on the Brazilian government’s website, Armando Monteiro, minister for development, industry and international trade (MDIC), explains that export volumes in basic, semi-processed and manufactured goods have all grown in the first quarter, by 23%, 15.7% and 12.7% respectively.
He also stresses the growth of the country’s exporter base: “Brazil still has a very concentrated exporter base, with only 20,000 exporting companies. One of the objectives of the National Export Plan is to increase that base. And in the first quarter we’ve already had 1,550 new companies entering international markets. Therefore, there are clear indications that the exporter base is also growing.”
Monteiro forecasts an annual surplus of US$50bn for 2016, up from the US$35bn originally expected, and Brazil’s “largest positive trade balance in history”. According to the minister, the current record is the US$46bn surplus observed in 2006.
But despite the positive spin put on these figures by the government, much remains to be done to restore investor confidence in Brazil. Auro Pagnozzi, director of corporate banking at ICBC Brazil, tells GTR: “The surplus is indeed is a good news. But, of course, this alone will not bring confidence to new investors. Potential investors want to see change in the political, economic, fiscal and financial areas. I believe that the first movement will be in the political scenario, in changing the current president [Dilma Rousseff]. All the evidence shows that she has lost her credibility in the country. More than 90% of Brazilians want her out of the government.
“On the other hand, reduced import is not a good signal. It means that companies are reducing their investments in plants, reducing their production and consequently reducing employees. Unemployment is currently around 11 million – which is not a good signal either.”
He adds that the senate is meant to vote on impeaching Rousseff on May 12, after which she could be suspended for 180 days and investigated as part of the country’s “car wash” operation to remove corruption from government.