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For 2024, we expect a trade surplus of USD 20.0 million led by the recovery of the agriculture sector.
2024/01/18 | Andrés Pérez M. & Diego Ciongo

The trade balance posted a deficit of USD 6.9 billion in 2023, amid a severe drought that affected agricultural exports, from a surplus of USD 6.9 billion in 2022. The trade balance showed a surplus of USD 1.0 billion in December, below the USD 1.1 billion surplus in the same month of 2022. The surplus was wider than market expectations, with analysts surveyed by Bloomberg estimating a surplus of USD 250 million. At the margin, the seasonally adjusted annualized deficit fell to USD 2.5 billion in December from USD 5.5 billion in November. 


Exports fell in 4Q23, still affected by the drought. Total exports declined by 26.8% yoy in the period, after a 22.7% drop in 3Q23. Agricultural exports, including manufactured agricultural products, plummeted by 37.6% yoy in the quarter (from a drop of 30.1% yoy in 3Q23), led by a drought-related reduction in exports of wheat, corn and soybean. Exports of other industrial products fell by 12.5% yoy in the quarter (from a decline of 7.4% yoy in 3Q23), mostly due to reduced shipments of cars, biodiesel and metals. On a sequential basis, exports fell by 18.4% qoq/saar in December, from +4.0% in 3Q23. 


Imports also fell in 4Q23, affected by controls. Total imports fell by 7.6% yoy in 4Q23 (from -13.5% yoy in 3Q23), down by 30.6% qoq/saar in the period (from -28.9% in 3Q23). Imports of intermediate goods fell by 4.0% yoy in the period, imports of capital goods and parts decreased by 7.9% yoy, while imports of consumer goods (including cars) declined by 10.2% yoy.


The energy trade deficit narrowed in 2023. The rolling 12-month deficit narrowed to only USD 46 million in December from a deficit of USD 4.4 billion in 2022. Energy imports decreased by 18.3% yoy in 4Q23, while oil exports rose by 2.3% yoy in the same period.


For 2024, we expect a trade surplus of USD 20.0 million led by the recovery of the agriculture sector and weaker imports after the sharp depreciation of the currency and soft activity.