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Imports fell again sequentially as domestic demand adjusts

The trade deficit in August came in at USD 1.1 billion, narrowing by USD 1.3 billion over one year. The deficit was above the Bloomberg market consensus of USD 0.8 billion and our USD 0.9 billion call. Total imports (FOB) contracted 25.8% yoy (26.7% decline in July) dragged by manufacturing and agricultural goods, and fuels, while exports contracted 10.1% yoy in August (-30.1% in July), as commodity exports continued to decline. As a result, the rolling 12-month trade deficit reached USD 11.8 billion, narrowing from the USD 14.5 billion deficit recorded in 2022 (USD 15.3 billion in 2021). At the margin, our seasonal adjustment shows the trade deficit at USD 11 billion (annualized), widening from USD 10.3 billion recorded in 2Q23 (USD 12.1 billion in 1Q23).


Imports fell again sequentially as domestic demand adjusts. Total imports (FOB) contracted 25.8% yoy in August (26.7% down in July), dragged by transport equipment (-59.9% yoy), construction materials (-48.6% yoy), intermediate goods for industry (-30.3% yoy), fuels (-24.5% yoy) and agriculture goods (-10.9% yoy). In the quarter ending in August, imports contracted 24.1% yoy (-19.5% in 2Q23 and +10.4% in 1Q23). Imports excluding fuels and transportation equipment fell 24.6% yoy (20.3% contraction in 2Q23; -14.9% in 1Q23). At the margin, we estimate that imports fell 16.3% qoq/saar (-17.0% in 2Q23; -9.7% in 1Q23).


Commodities exports remained weak. Exports fell 10.1% yoy (-30.1% in July). Oil exports fell 5.0% yoy (-24.1% in July), dragged down by prices. Moreover, coal exports contracted 31.8% yoy (-62.5% in July), mainly due to a decline in prices. Exports excluding traditional goods (oil, coal, coffee and ferronickel), accounting for 44.2% of total exports contracted 1.9% yoy (-0.8% in July). In the quarter ending in August, exports contracted 23.4% yoy (21.5% drop in 2Q23; -3.6% in 1Q23), dragged by a double-digit decline of coal, coffee, fuels, oil, and agricultural exports. At the margin, exports contracted 27.9% qoq/saar (-9.0% in 2Q23; -8.6% in 1Q23).


The current-account deficit should narrow in 2023, aided by softening domestic demand and higher oil prices, leading to a lower trade and services deficit. We expect a CAD deficit of 3.5% (6.2% in 2022).


Andrés Pérez M.

Vittorio Peretti 

Carolina Monzón

Juan Robayo