Foreign trade hit new record highs in Brazil in 2006. Exports surpassed the goal set by the federal government, yielding US$ 137.5 billion, surpassing the forecasted US$ 135 billion. The growth compared with 2005 was 16.2%.
The data were presented yesterday, January 2, by the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade. The executive secretary at the ministry, Ivan Ramalho, announced that the goal for 2007 is to reach US$ 152 billion worth of exports.
Imports saw an even greater increase, 24.2%, reaching US$ 91.4 billion. Despite the fact that imports grew more than foreign sales, the trade balance surplus increased by 3%, at more than US$ 46 billion.
"Exports and imports reached record highs, showing that foreign trade is now on a new level, totaling a trade flow (exports plus imports) of US$ 228.9 billion in 2006, 20% more than the US$ 191.1 billion recorded in 2005," according to a press statement released by the ministry.
The ministry says record highs were attained in exports of all three product categories, with manufactured goods answering to the largest share, followed by basic products, and semi-manufactured products.
The sector that contributed the most in absolute terms was that of transportation material, with US$ 20.4 billion worth of products exported, followed by iron and steel products, petroleum and derivatives, iron minerals, soy complex (grain, oil and chaff), chemical products, meats, and sugar and alcohol sectors. The sectors that grew the most, however, were those of petroleum and derivatives, and sugar and alcohol.
According to the ministry, exports to all economic regions have increased, with the Middle East ranking first in terms of growth, with 35.7%. Exports to the region amounted to US$ 5.75 billion. Africa ranked third among the destinations that grew the most, with a 26% increase. Exports to the African continent yielded US$ 7.4 billion. The Arab countries are located in the Middle East and North Africa.
With regard to imports, there was also an increase in trade flow for all product categories, highlighting consumer goods (42.6%), fuels and lubricants (28.2%), capital goods (23.9%), and raw and intermediate materials (20.8%). Imports from all supplying regions have increased.
According to the Development, Industry and Foreign Trade Ministry, Brazilian foreign sales have more than doubled over the last four years, a period that corresponds to the first term in office of president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Re-elected, Lula was sworn in for his second term on Monday, January 1st. In 2002, exports totaled US$ 60.4 billion, representing a US$ 77.1 billion increase in exports during the four-year period.
Imports increased 93.5% compared with 2002, when they amounted to US$ 47.2 billion. "During these four years, the accumulated trade balance surplus has reached US$ 149.2 billion, contributing to the improvement of Brazilian foreign accounts and economic stability," according to the press statement released by the ministry.
In December alone, Brazilian exports yielded US$ 12.2 billion, a 12.3% increase compared with the same month in 2005. Imports increased by 10%, to reach US$ 7.2 billion. Brazil had a favorable trade balance of US$ 5 billion, and a trade flow of US$ 19.4 billion.
The Middle East ranked second among destinations that grew the most in December (76.7%, at US$ 689 million), followed by Africa (49.8%, at US$ 741 million).