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Double-digit declines in imports persist.
2023/08/15 | Andrés Pérez M., Vittorio Peretti, Carolina Monzón & Juan Robayo

Trade deficit gradually narrowed in 2Q23, mainly driven by  double digit declines in imports. The trade deficit in June reached USD 0.8 billion (USD 0.4 billion in June 2022), slightly below the Bloomberg market consensus and our USD 0.7 billion call. During 2Q23, the trade deficit fell to USD 2.3 billion from USD 3.1 billion in 1Q23. As a result, the rolling 12-month trade deficit edged down to USD 13.1 billion, from the USD 14.5 billion recorded in 2022 (USD 15.3 billion in 2021). Total imports (FOB) contracted 19.2% yoy (18.4% decline in May) dragged by consumption, intermediate and capital goods, while exports contracted 27.5% yoy in June (-3.5% fall in May), driven by a significant commodity export drag. At the margin, the quarterly seasonally adjusted trade deficit reached USD 10.4 billion (annualized), narrowing from USD 12.1 billion recorded in 1Q (USD 12.5 billion in 4Q22). A gradual current-account deficit adjustment would support the central bank to start the pace of rate cuts in 4Q23.



Imports continue to fall sequentially in 2Q23. In the second quarter of the year, imports (FOB) contracted 19.5% yoy, building on the 10.4% contraction in 1Q23 (-1.2% in 4Q22). Fuels (-31.9% yoy), intermediate goods for industry (-26.2% yoy) and capital goods for industry (-22.6 yoy) were the main drags in the quarter.  Imports excluding fuels and transportation equipment fell 20.3% yoy (14.9% yoy contraction in 1Q23; -8.5% in 4Q22). At the margin, we estimate that imports fell 15.1% qoq/saar (-10.1% in 1Q23 and -46.7% in 4Q22).


The oil drag continued during the second quarter of the year.  In 2Q23, exports fell 21.8% yoy (from -3.6% in 1Q23; +7.3% in 4Q22), dragged by a double-digit decline of oil, coal, coffee, and agricultural exports. The oil export drop in the quarter (-34.2% yoy; -23.6% yoy in 1Q23) was driven mainly by lower prices relative to last year. Moreover, coal exports also contracted 33.6% (+45.6% in 1Q23). Exports excluding traditional goods (oil, coal, coffee and ferronickel), accounting for 45.1% of total exports in the quarter, registered a mild 0.8% growth (+0.1% in 1Q23; +0.6% in 4Q22). At the margin, exports contracted 5.9% qoq/saar (10.0% decline in 1Q23).

The current-account deficit should narrow in 2023 as domestic demand weakens and remittances increase. We expect a CAD deficit of 4.2% of GDP (4.4% previously; 6.2% in 2022).