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Brazil Goes on the Offensive to Contain “Melting” Dollar

President Bush holds one dollar bill Brazilian market analysts project that by the end of the year the dollar should be worth the equivalent of 1.75 reais, as against the 1.78 reais previously estimated. The dollar has been depreciating against the real (Brazilian currency) for three consecutive weeks now.

For the current month, the estimate was revised up from 1.69 real to 1.70 real. The same estimate applied for the month of April. The projections were taken from the Focus bulletin, a weekly publication by the Brazilian Central Bank based on prognoses for the main economic indicators made by 100 financial institutions.

Last week, the Brazilian federal government launched a set of measures aimed at containing what Brazil's minister of Finance, Guido Mantega, referred to as "the melting of the dollar", and at reducing the impact of the dollar depreciation on exports. The measures become effective as of today, March 17.

Despite the announcement, market analysts have maintained their projection for the balance of trade surplus, i.e. exports minus imports, at US$ 29 billion by the end of the year. The forecast for foreign direct investment (FDI – funds that contribute to the generation of employment) was also maintained at US$ 29 billion in 2008.

However, with regard to the current account surplus, which involves all commercial and financial transactions with foreign countries, the projection of deficit for this year increased from US$ 8.10 billion to US$ 9 billion. For next year, the deficit estimate was maintained at US$ 12.08 billion.

As to the expansion of industrial production, the projection was revised up from 5.04% to 5.06% for this year. With regard to the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), i.e. the sum of all goods and services produced in the country, a growth projection of 4.5% 2008 has been maintained for 12 weeks now. The 4% estimate for 2009 has not been revised either.

Trade Balance Surplus

The Brazilian balance of trade posted a US$ 527 million surplus in the second week this month, according to data disclosed today by the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade.

Last week, exports totaled US$ 3.494 billion and imports, US$ 2.967. In the first week this month, a trade deficit of US$ 159 million was recorded. Thus, the month of March, after ten business days, accumulates a trade surplus of US$ 368 million.

In the accumulated result for the year, after 51 business days, exports total US$ 32.799 billion, a greater value that recorded in the same period last year (US$ 25.206 billion), and imports reached US$ 30.605 billion, more than the US$ 18.802 billion recorded by the second week of March 2006, after 47 business days.

As imports grew at a higher rate than exports, the accumulated balance of trade surplus this year reached US$ 2.194 billion, as against US$ 6.404 billion posted in the same period of 2007.

ABr

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