Brazilian agribusiness exports hit a new record high, amounting to US$ 49.422 billion in 2006, a 13.4% increase compared with the same period in 2005.
The data were released Friday, January 5, by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture. The sector's exports accounted for 36% of the overall Brazilian exports in 2006, which yielded US$ 137.4 billion.
According to the ministry, exports to major economic blocs have increased, the Middle East being the one that grew the most (35.7%), followed by Africa (20.9%). These two regions have increased their participation as buyers in the agricultural sector from 7% to 8.4% and from 6.5% to 6.9%, respectively.
Nevertheless, the European Union is still the main destination for Brazilian agricultural products, absorbing 31.4% of total exports, followed by Asia and the Nafta countries.
First on the list of 20 main buying countries in 2006 were the United States. As for Arab countries, Saudi Arabia ranked 15th, Egypt ranked 16th and the United Arab Emirates ranked 17th.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the sector that had the most influence in increasing agribusiness exports in 2006 was that of sugar and alcohol.
Foreign sales of sugar and alcohol amounted to US$ 7.8 billion, a 65.9% increase in comparison with 2005. Sugar answered to US$ 6,2 billion, and alcohol answered to US$ 1.6 billion.
Other sectors with strong export performances in 2006, according to the ministry, were forestry products, meat, coffee, cereals, flours and preparations, leather and leather products, and fruit juices. The soy complex sector saw a 1.8% reduction, and exported US$ 9.3 billion worth of products.
The sector's imports, on the other hand, amounted to US$ 6.695 billion, resulting in a record-high trade balance surplus of US$ 42.726 billion in Brazil. Foreign purchases increased 31%, and the products that most influenced performance were wheat, natural rubber, rice, cotton and maize.
In December alone, agribusiness exports yielded US$ 4.137 billion, 12.9% more than in the same month in 2005. Imports increased 27.3% to reach US$ 664 million, resulting in a US$ 3.473 billion surplus.