Some good news for the beleaguered Brazilian economy and President Dilma Rousseff’s bid for re-election next October. According to the latest data supplies by the government, Brazil posted a trade surplus of 712 million dollars in May, recovering from a weak start to the year but still below historical levels.
Brazil’s trade balance has been hit hard by rising fuel imports and a drop in the price of some key exports such as iron ore. A sharp depreciation of the Argentine peso has also curbed manufacturing exports to the neighboring country.
May’s surplus is the result of 20.8 billion in exports and 20.04 billion in imports, in 21 working days, the trade ministry said. The country posted a surplus of 506 million in April
In the first five months of 2014, Brazil ran a 4.9 billion trade deficit, narrower than a 5.4 billion deficit in the same period a year earlier, the ministry said.
The accumulated result over the last 12 months is a surplus of 3.1 billion, narrower than a surplus of 7.8 billion in the June 2012-May 2013 period
The other good piece of news is that Brazil had its biggest primary budget surplus for the month of April in three years due to a surge in extraordinary income from dividends and concession premiums, central bank data showed.
Brazil posted a primary budget surplus of 16.896 billion reais (7.54 billion dollars) in April, while in March it had a primary surplus of 3.58 billion reais.
The primary surplus, which represents the public sector’s excess revenue over expenditures before debt payments, is a key indicator of a country’s capacity to repay debt.
The surge in primary savings was mostly due to an increase in the government’s intake from concession premiums and dividends from state-run companies. The central government’s dividend intake rose more than six-fold between January and April, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to Treasury data released last week.
Brazil’s public finances have deteriorated rapidly under the government of President Dilma Rousseff, leading Standard and Poor’s to downgrade the country’s sovereign debt rating closer to junk status in March.
Nevertheless in the first four months of the year, the government has been able to meet about 40% of its target for the primary surplus for the year.
Finance minister Guido Mantega pledged to save at least 99 billion reais this year in primary surplus, or 1.9% of the country’s GDP. Many economists see that target as out of reach unless the government resorts to alternative accounting or receives extraordinary revenues from concessions or tax settlements.
A recent slowdown in tax revenue and limited space to keep collecting extraordinary revenues could drag down the primary surplus in coming months, economists have warned.