Brazil Sets New Import Record

Brazil imported the equivalent to US$ 6.082 billion in November. The value is a monthly record and represents a 42.7% increase over November 2003 and 4.2% in comparison to October this year.

The previous record had been reached in July 1997, when foreign purchases reached US$ 5.955 billion.


This information was announced yesterday, December 1st, by Brazil’s Foreign Trade Secretariat (Secex), an organization connected to the Development, Industry and Foreign Trade Ministry.


Among the suppliers, the region that grew most was the Middle East, which sold the equivalent to US$ 324 million to Brazil, against US$ 146 million in the same period in 2003, which means a 122% increase.


In its statistics, the Secex considers Middle Eastern countries in the Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman and Syria, but it also includes Israel and Iran.


In the evaluation of the vice-president of the Brazilian Foreign Trade Association (AEB), José Augusto de Castro, the record import volume reflects the return to economic growth in the country, as well as the increase of oil prices on the international market.


According to figures supplied on November 30 by the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the Brazilian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose 5.3% in the first three quarters of the year, in comparison to the same period in 2003.


According to the Secex, the purchases that most grew were those of fuels and lubricants (83.6%).


“In the fuel group, growth occurred, mainly, due to the increase in the price of oil and of greater purchases of fuel oils,” according the statement published by the government.


But, according to the secretariat, there was growth in imports of all product categories, including consumer goods (43.1%), raw and intermediary materials (39%) and capital goods (28.1%).


“Brazil has strongly increased its exports of manufactured products. This automatically made imports of raw materials and intermediary goods grow,” stated Castro.


Between January and November 2003 and the same period this year, participation of manufactured goods in the Brazilian export basket rose from 53.9% to 54.1%.


With regard to consumer goods, Castro stated that “more inviting exchange rates,” i.e., a stronger Brazilian real against the dollar, made imports rise. On December 1st, one dollar was sold for 2.717 Brazilian reais, the lowest value since June 2002.


“With a devaluated dollar, importers tend to anticipate their purchases. Apart from that, economic growth provokes an increase in demand. This is cyclic,” added the secretary-general of the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (CCAB), Michel Alaby, who is also the president of the Association of Brazilian Companies for Market Integration (Adebim).


With regard to “capital goods”, Castro believes that Brazilian import growth should be even greater due to the return to Brazilian economic growth and to the need companies have for investment in machinery and equipment for expansion of their productive capacity.


He added that, traditionally, imports rise in November due to the end of year commemorations and the consequent increase of consumption.


“It was not really a surprise. The tendency is for a drop in December. However, in 2005 imports should rise at a greater level than exports, as foreign sales grew more in 2003 and 2004 and purchases were practically stopped,” declared the vice-president of the AEB.


From January to November, Brazilian imports totalled US$ 57.084 billion, a record for the period and 28.9% greater than the volume registered in the first 11 months of last year.


There was once again an increase in the purchases of all product categories, like fuel and lubricants (52.2%), raw and intermediary materials (30.8%), consumer goods (23.8%) and capital goods (16.7%).


Africa was the region that grew most as a country supplier in the period (81%), due to oil. African countries like Algeria and Nigeria are among the largest Brazilian suppliers of the commodity.


Sales to the Middle East, in turn, rose 39.1%, not only due to fuels, but also to the increase in purchases of fertilizers and chemical products.


Foreign Sales


Exports, however, continued growing when compared to last year, but they dropped in comparison to October. Shipping generated US$ 8.159 billion in November, a record for months of November, and rose 36.4% in comparison to the same period last year. The value, however, is 7.7% lower than that registered in October.


“The export rhythm normally drops at this time of the year as winter starts in the Northern hemisphere and stocks in those countries are filled up to October. In January and February, large discount sales take place, and, in March, exports start getting stronger, when crops start,” stated Michel Alaby.


“But exports are still at a good level, over US$ 8 billion,” added Castro. The trade balance result in the month was favorable for Brazil, US$ 2.077 billion, also a record for months of November.


There was a 5.1% reduction in exports to the Middle East in November. “The reduction in sales to the Middle East is directly related to the lower oil and ground soy demand, as exports of meats, buses, auto parts, cargo vehicles, soy in grain, iron ore, land-levelling equipment, coffee in grain and tobacco rose,” according to the Secex statement.


In the accumulated result for the year, however, shipping to the region rose 36.1%. With regard to Africa there was a 91.5% increase in November exports and a 48.8% increase in exports in the first 11 months of 2004.


Between January and November, exports generated US$ 87.28 billion, which represents a 31.6% increase in comparison to the same period last year. The trade balance was also favourable to Brazil US$ 30.196 billion.


Forecasts


According to Castro, the AEB expects that exports should exceed US$ 95 billion by the end of the year, and they may even reach US$ 96 billion.


The federal government, in turn, estimates that the shipping should generate US$ 94 billion. The trade balance surplus, according to Castro, should exceed US$ 32 billion and may reach US$ 33 billion.


ANBA ”“ Brazil-Arab News Agency

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