(Adds trade data and context)
BRASILIA, April 1 Brazil posted a trade surplus
of $112 million in March, recovering after two
straight monthly deficits but still well below historical
Brazil's trade balance has been hit hard by rising fuel
imports and a drop in the price of iron ore and some other key
exports. A sharp depreciation of the Argentinian peso has also
curbed manufacturing exports to the neighboring country.
The surplus was in line with market expectations of $100
million, according to the median forecast of 19 analysts
surveyed by Reuters. The country posted a deficit of $2.13
billion in February.
The commodities exporter posted a surplus of $162.6 million
in March of 2013, but from 2002 till 2012 its trade surplus
averaged $2 billion for that month.
The shrinking trade surplus is eroding Brazil's external
balance, raising the current account gap to 3.69 percent of GDP
in February from 2.82 percent in February of 2013. Last year's
current account deficit was the biggest since 2001.
A worsening trade balance is a serious challenge for Brazil.
The country is struggling with weaker demand for its exports due
to a still-subdued global economy, and low productivity among
Brazilian manufacturers has made their products less competitive
against those of foreign rivals.
While the real slid more than 13 percent against the
dollar last year, the weaker currency has done little to
significantly bolster exports. The weaker real has raised the
prices of imports, but Brazilians continue to snap them up at a
Total exports in March dropped nearly 9 percent from the
same month in 2013. Imports also dropped at a similar pace
during the same period.
In 2013, Brazil posted its smallest trade surplus in more
than a decade as imports of fuel and consumer goods gained speed
while exports eased.
(Reporting by Alonso Soto; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and