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Imports increased sequentially.
2024/06/20 | Andrés Pérez M., Vittorio Peretti, Carolina Monzón & Juan Robayo

The trade deficit in April came in at USD 1.1 billion, widening USD 0.2 billion over one year.  The deficit was above the Bloomberg market consensus of USD 1.0 billion and our USD 0.4 billion call. Total imports (FOB) rise by 18.7% YoY (-18.6% in March), boosted by fuels and manufacturing imports. Meanwhile, exports increased by 17.9 YoY in April 13.4% contraction in March), supported by coffee exports and coal sales. As a result, the rolling 12-month trade deficit reached USD 9.4 billion, slightly below in USD 0.3 billion from the 2023 deficit (USD 14.5 billion in 2022). At the margin, our seasonal adjustment shows trade deficit at USD 10.9 billion (annualized), up from the USD 8.4 billion recorded in 4Q23.


Imports increased sequentially. The 18.7% YoY import increase in April was boosted by fuels (+52.8% YoY), consumption goods (+28.1% YoY), capital goods for industry (+27.9% YoY) and transport equipment (+10.7% YoY). In the quarter ending in April, imports contracted 2.3% YoY (-10.4% in 4Q23; -25.5% in 3Q23). Imports excluding fuels and transportation equipment fell 1.9% YoY (-12.5% in 4Q23; -25.6% in 3Q23).  At the margin, we estimate imports increased 13.7% qoq/saar (+12.9% in 4Q23; -20.4% in 3Q23).


Exports recovered in April. Exports increased by 17.9%  yoy (-13.4% in March). Oil exports increased by 6.3% YoY (+13.0% in March), still lifted by higher prices. Exports excluding traditional goods (oil, coal, coffee, and ferronickel), accounting for the 47.4% of total exports, grew 26.3% YoY.  In the quarter ended in April, exports contracted 2.9% YoY (9.2% drop in 1Q23), dragged by double-digit declines in ferronickel and coal. At the margin, exports fell by 2.2% qoq/saar (-21.4% in 1Q; +17.8% in 4Q). 


Our take: Amid a contractionary monetary policy and elevated inflation, domestic demand remain weak, supporting a low current account deficit this year (3.0% of GDP in 2024, up slightly from 2.7% in 2023).