Foreign trade fell again in March, although the drop was not as steep as that of previous months, the INDEC statistics bureau said yesterday.
A four percent decline was seen in both exports and imports, with the Central Bank maintaining a slight surplus of US$43 million.
The big drop seen in January and February, however, meant that the first quarter ended with a 15.7 percent fall in the yearly comparison.
Sales abroad reached US$5.04 billion in March, an improved figure when compared to February’s US$4.06 billion or January’s US$4.3 billion, but the Central Bank still depended on restrictions on imports to post its now usual surplus of a few million dollars per month.
“During the first quarter, the fall in imports moved very close to that of exports. In a scenario of controlled imports and weak exports, this result can be explained by the goal of local authorities to control external purchases so as to maintain equilibrium in the currency flows,” a report from the economic consultancy agency Abeceb said yesterday.
In April, exports are expected to improve, and the same could happen to imports, as the soy bean harvest season could allow the Central Bank to place fewer restrictions without risking a trade deficit.
So far, a surplus of US$168 million was accumulated in the first three months, with the March surplus of 33 percent below that of February, when US$64 million were amassed. According to Indec’s figures, 2014 and 2015 were the years with the smallest trade surpluses in the last decade.
Sector by Sector
The biggest yearly change this month was seen in fuel and energy, as both exports and imports plunged when compared to 2014, when prices were much higher in international markets.
Overall, the first quarter ended up with drops in all sectors but one, INDEC said. Fuel and energy plunged 58 percent, followed by industrial manufactures (17 percent), agricultural manufactures (10 percent) and raw materials (no change).
However, exports of unprocessed grains were reported as being up 27 percent in the first quarter, despite reports from the CIARA and CEC grain exporting chambers, who have shown a drop in sales since the New Year.
As for imports, the highlight was a 7 percent quarterly growth in capital goods, which are seen as key to keep local industrial production going.
Date: April 22, 2015