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We expect a gradual CAD adjustment for this year.

Andrés Pérez M. & Vittorio Peretti


Another decline in imports of consumer goods, and still upbeat lithium exports supported an important trade surplus in December. A large USD 1.846 billion trade surplus was registered during December, above our USD 1.2 billion call, and the Bloomberg market consensus of USD 200 million. Exports decreased 1% YoY during the month, with copper sales decelerating its negative pull over twelve months with a 13.2% YoY contraction (-28% in November; -24% in 3Q). Mining exports fell 0.2% YoY, with upbeat lithium exports still registering an important positive contribution totalizing 2022 with USD 7.7 billion in exports, a notable increase from the USD 0.9 million from 2021, and representing 14% of total mining exports during 2022. Separately, total imports contracted 17.7% YoY during December (-2.1% in November), with consumer goods imports falling by 32% YoY and energy imports heavily slowing its positive pull with a 4% increase (+55% in November). Imports of capital goods fell by 8.6% YoY, falling for the third consecutive month, yet still remained at a high level (3.5% above the 2022 monthly average). The large trade surplus in December contributed to the yearend surplus of USD 2.858 billion, falling from the very large surpluses of 2021 and 2020, at USD 10.5 billion and USD 19.0 billion respectively. At the margin, our seasonal adjustment shows a trade surplus of USD 9.4 billion for 4Q (annualized; USD 1.8 billion surplus in 3Q22) as imports weakened during the quarter.

During 4Q exports fell by 3.9% YoY (-0.3% in 3Q22) dragged by a slower manufacturing pull. Mining exports decreased 8.1% YoY (-12.4% in 3Q) with copper exports falling by 21% in 4Q, slightly less than in the previous quarter (-25% in 3Q). Manufacturing exports registered a 5.2% YoY increase, slowing from the 26.2% in 3Q, as food exports growth decreased to 12.1% YoY during 4Q (30.8% in 3Q). Sequentially, exports decreased 5.6% qoq/saar (-11.5% in 3Q).

Imports continue to loose momentum at the margin, as consumption normalizes. Imports decreased 11.3% YoY during 4Q followed by the 2.5% contraction during the quarter ending in November. Consumer goods imports dropped 25.6% (4% drop in 3Q), with durable goods imports shrinking 35% (-28% in 3Q). Capital goods imports fell 8.3% YoY, reverting positive figures from previous months (+8% in 3Q), as the investment boost registered during 3Q is giving more signs to be transitory. At the margin, imports keep losing momentum, falling 33% qoq/saar (down 25% in 3Q). Excluding energy, imports fell 26% qoq/saar (-32% in 3Q).

The contraction in economic activity we are expecting for 2023 should support a gradual adjustment of the CAD (9.9% in 3Q).Lower domestic demand, easing oil prices and falling shipping fees will support a moderation of the CAD during 2023 to 4.2% of GDP (8.8% expected for 2022).

Andrés Pérez M.

Vittorio Peretti