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UPDATE 1-Brazil posts 2020 trade surplus of $51 billion, up 6% from year before

(Adds detail, forecasts)

BRASILIA, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Brazil posted a $51 billion trade surplus last year, official figures showed on Monday, a 6% increase from the year before as the COVID-19 pandemic hit imports harder than exports.

Latin America’s largest economy exported goods worth $209.9 billion last year, down from $225.4 billion the year before, the Economy Ministry said on Monday, adding that imports fell to $158.9 billion from $177.3 billion.

Total trade volume last year fell 7.7% on a daily average basis, but the annual surplus widened 6% from than the $48.1 billion recorded in 2019, the figures showed.

Agriculture exports rose 6% to $45.3 billion last year, while mining industry exports fell to $48.8 billion and exports of manufactured goods fell 11% to $115 billion, the ministry said.

Exports to Asia rose 7% to $99.2 billion, accounting for almost half of all exports, while exports to North America and elsewhere in South America each slumped by around a fifth to $29.5 billion and $22.7 billion, respectively.

Imports from Asia last year fell 5% to $55.8 billion, the figures showed, while imports from North and South America slumped by almost a fifth and imports from Europe fell 14%.

For the month of December, Brazil posted a $42 million trade deficit, on exports of $18.365 billion and imports of $18.407 billion. The median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists was for a $200 million surplus.

The Economy Ministry said it expects a trade surplus next year of $53 billion. (Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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