Itaú BBA - ARGENTINA – Still-wide trade surplus in February

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ARGENTINA – Still-wide trade surplus in February

Março 26, 2020

Lower commodity prices are likely to affect trade surplus this year

Another strong trade surplus in February. The trade balance posted a USD 1.1 billion surplus in February, in line with our call of a USD 1.0 billion surplus and above the USD 0.5 billion surplus registered in same month of last year. The last 12-month trade surplus rose to USD 17.3 billion, from USD 16.6 billion in January. At the margin, annualized surplus adjusted for seasonality decreased to USD 20.0 billion in the quarter ended in February, from USD 24.0 billion in the previous month.
 

 Exports fell despite higher sales of primary products. Total exports decreased by 0.8% yoy in the quarter ended in February (down from 3.6% yoy in the quarter ended in January). On a sequential basis, exports plummeted by 24.9% qoq/saar (from 12.2% qoq/saar in January). Agricultural exports including manufactured products grew 2.8% yoy in the quarter, on higher wheat and soybean shipments (down from 8.8% growth in the quarter ended in January). Sales of industrial products fell by 8.0% yoy in the period, from a 3.6% yoy decline in the quarter ended in January. 

 Imports hit a new low record. Total imports declined by 18.7% yoy in the quarter ended in February, in line with persistently weak economic activity. At the margin, imports fell by 11.7% qoq/saar (-23.5% in January). Consumer goods imports (including cars) fell by 20.0% yoy in the period, affected by a weaker currency and lower real income. Imports of intermediate goods dropped by 17.7%, while purchases of capital goods and parts declined by 20.9%. 

 Energy trade balance deficit remained low and unchanged. The rolling 12-month trade deficit came in at USD 0.3 billion for a third consecutive month.  

Lower commodity prices are likely to affect trade surplus this year. We recently revised our 2020 trade surplus forecast down to USD 12 billion (from USD 14.5 billion), mostly due to lower soybean prices. 

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Juan Carlos Barboza
Diego Ciongo



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