The trade balance showed a deficit of USD 1.0 billion in August, greater than the USD 0.3 billion deficit in the same month of 2022. The deficit was above market expectations, with analysts surveyed by Bloomberg estimating a USD 0.4 billion deficit. The 12-month rolling trade deficit rose to USD 1.3 billion in August, from a deficit of USD 0.6 billion in July. At the margin, the seasonally adjusted annualized balance fell from a deficit of USD 12.5 billion in 2Q23 to USD 7.4 billion in the quarter ended in August.
The severe drought still weighed on exports in the quarter ended in August. Total exports declined by 27.0% yoy in the quarter, after a 29.6% drop in 2Q23. Agricultural exports, including manufactured agricultural products, plummeted by 32.6% yoy in the quarter (from a drop of 36.4% yoy in 2Q23), led by a drought-related reduction in exports of wheat, corn and soybean. Exports of other industrial products fell by 17.2% yoy in the period (from a decline of 16.2% yoy in 2Q23), mostly due to reduced shipments of cars and biodiesel. On a sequential basis, exports fell by 13.3% qoq/saar in August, from -27.6% in 2Q23.
Imports also fell in the quarter, affected by controls and weak activity. Total imports fell by 16.3% yoy in the quarter ended in August (from -11.9% yoy in 2Q23), down by 31.8% qoq/saar in the period (from +13.7% in 2Q23). Imports of consumer goods (including cars) dropped by 13.9% yoy in the period, while imports of capital goods and parts increased by 2.8% yoy. Imports of intermediate goods fell by 7.1% yoy in the period.
The energy trade deficit narrowed in August. The rolling 12-month deficit narrowed to USD 0.8 billion in August from USD 1.4 billion in the previous month. Energy imports decreased by 53.8% yoy in the quarter ended in August, while oil exports fell by 13.4% yoy in the period.
We expect a trade deficit of USD 2.0 billion for this year, from a surplus of USD 6.9 billion in 2022 due to the severe drought.