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Manufacturing exports weakened at the margin

The trade balance posted a deficit of USD 1.5 billion in September, a wider deficit than market consensus of USD 0.4 billion, but closer to our forecast a deficit of USD 1.3 billion. The 12-month rolling trade balance deteriorated to a deficit of USD 11.3 billion in September (from a deficit of USD 10.7 billion in August). The wider trade deficit was explained by a lower non-energy trade surplus of USD 12.2 billion in September (from a surplus of 15.1 billion in August), which was mitigated by a narrower energy trade deficit (USD 23.5 billion, from a deficit of USD 28.5 billion). At the margin, using three-month annualized seasonally adjusted figures, the trade balance stood at a deficit of USD 0.6 billion in 3Q23 (from a deficit of USD 19.2 billion in 2Q23). Looking at the breakdown, manufacturing exports fell by 0.7% mom/sa dragged by non-vehicle exports, while vehicle exports (0.5% mom/sa) were not apparently affected by labor strikes in the U.S. automotive sector. Manufacturing exports qoq/saar stood at 11.5% in 3Q23 (from -0.8% in 2Q23). Non-energy imports expanded 1.2% mom/sa in September, with sequential expansions across all categories (non-energy consumption, intermediate and capital imports). The qoq/saar of non-energy imports stood at -2.1% in 3Q23 (from 16.1% in 2Q23).  


Our view: We expect the trade deficit to deteriorate during the rest of the year, from the 12-month rolling figure of a deficit of USD 11.3 billion in September, as manufacturing exports softens, while resilient internal demand will likely support non-energy imports. Still, our trade balance forecast of a deficit of USD 23 billon for 2023 has an upward bias (smaller trade deficit) given a better-than-expected evolution in the trade balance in 3Q23.


See detailed data below

Julio Ruiz