Imports also decline 19 percent as fewer energy, food and cars were bought in January
Argentina registered its lowest level of exports since 2010 in January, a month in which imports also declined sharply, according to figures released yesterday by the INDEC statistics bureau that made it clear the country’s sales and purchases abroad continue to decline.
Exports fell 18 percent to US$4.3 billion, compared to the same month last year. Imports registered a similar decline of 19 to US$4.2 billion.
Although this meant that the net result of the balance of trade saw a surplus of US$73 million in January, more than double when compared with the first month of 2014.
That small surplus could be seen as a slight boost to the country’s reserves, but it is lower than the amount of dollars the Central Bank sells in an average day to pay for imports.
“It is a bad result in terms of how Argentina interacts with the world,” Economist Ariel Setton told the Herald.
“I think there are three main factors behind it: the drop in the price of commodities, the drop in local production and the reduced demand in the car industry,” Setton said.
INDEC’s figures point out there was a 67 percent decline in vehicle imports, explaining a large part of the decline.
Yesterday’s figures showed a second consecutive year of reduced imports for the month, while January’s exports have also been dropping since 2012.
Some economists believe the decline in the country’s sales could be explained by speculation from exporters waiting for policy changes, considering that a devaluation could improve profit margins.
The uncertainty over the exchange rate plus the downturn in the car sector has meant that both industrial and agricultural manufactures sold abroad were down for the period, 24 percent and 15 percent respectively.
Primary products, meanwhile, saw 16 percent growth in January, with unprocessed cereals posting a 28 percent increase.
The first month of the year also saw a significant decline in consumer goods bought abroad, which were down 12 percent, including drops in key categories such as food and beverages, 9 percent down in the most basic products and 22 percent down in prepared meals and drinks.
On Monday, the COPAL food industry chamber said a shortfall in foodstuffs could take place in the near future if restrictions on imports continued
They mentioned coffee and cocoa as raw materials that were not produced in the country and whose lack of availability could make industries fall short of the production quotas needed to satisfy local demand.
The Domestic Trade Secretariat replied humorously, saying that they “were not going to take seriously a complaint over a lack of Media Hora sweets,” in reference to a very specific brand of Argentine candy.
Date: February 25, 2014