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We see downside risks to our trade deficit forecast of USD 2.0 billion for this year.

The trade balance showed a deficit of USD 0.8 billion in September, above the USD 0.4 billion surplus in the same month of 2022. The deficit was also above market expectations, with analysts surveyed by Bloomberg estimating a USD 0.2 billion surplus. The 12-month rolling trade deficit rose to USD 2.5 billion in September, from a deficit of USD 1.3 billion in August. At the margin, the seasonally adjusted annualized balance fell from a deficit of USD 12.6 billion in 2Q23 to USD 5.9 billion in 3Q23.

The severe drought still weighed on exports in 3Q23. Total exports declined by 22.7% yoy in the quarter, after a 29.6% drop in 2Q23. Agricultural exports, including manufactured agricultural products, plummeted by 30.1% 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 7.4% yoy in 3Q23 (from a decline of 16.2% yoy in 2Q23), mostly due to reduced shipments of cars and metals. On a sequential basis, exports rebounded by 5.3% qoq/saar in September, from -28.1% in 2Q23. 


Imports also fell in the quarter, affected by controls and weak activity. Total imports fell by 13.5% yoy in 3Q23 (from -11.9% yoy in 2Q23), down by 26.5% qoq/saar in the period (from +13.8% in 2Q23). Imports of consumer goods (including cars) dropped by 8.4% yoy in the period, while imports of capital goods and parts increased by 5.0% yoy. Imports of intermediate goods fell by 8.2% yoy in the period.


The energy trade deficit narrowed in September. The rolling 12-month deficit narrowed to USD 0.7 billion in September from USD 0.8 billion in the previous month. Energy imports decreased by 54.4% yoy in 3Q23, while oil exports fell by 15.0% yoy in the period.


We see downside risks to our trade deficit forecast of USD 2.0 billion for this year.


Andrés Pérez M.

Diego Ciongo