* April trade surplus doubles to $3.7 bln year-on-year
* Imports slump 14 pct, exports rise 4.3 pct in April
* Highest surplus since May 2008 (Recasts, adds details, context and quote)
SAO PAULO, May 4 (Reuters) - Brazil’s trade surplus doubled in April from a year ago to its biggest level in nearly a year, as imports fell at a faster rate than exports with the economy slowing because of a global financial crisis.
Brazil posted a trade surplus BRTBAL=ECI of $3.7 billion in April -- the biggest surplus since May 2008-- compared with a surplus of $1.77 billion in March, the trade ministry said on Monday.
The surplus was higher than the $3.2 billion median estimate of 15 economists in a Reuters survey. The surplus estimates ranged from $3 billion to $3.5 billion surplus.
“There is a recovery in demand and credit (for exports),” said Brazil’s Foreign Trade Secretary Welber Barral, adding that any comparison with last year needed to take into account that this time last year a strike disrupted shipment of various products.
He said China had been the main consumer of Brazilian products in recent months, surpassing the United States as the country’s main trading partner in April for the first time ever and preventing a bigger fall of Brazilian exports.
”Our aim is to diversify and add value to our exports to China which today are still too concentrated in basic goods,“ Barral added.”
Exports rose 4.3 percent in April from March to $12.32 billion but were down 12.3 percent from a year earlier. Brazil is among the world’s top commodity exporters.
Imports fell 14 percent month-on-month in April to $8.61 billion and sank 30.1 percent from the same month last year as a weak Brazilian real BRBY made it more expensive to buy overseas goods.
Brazil’s trade surplus already widened in March from a year ago as a slowdown in Latin America’s largest economy took a bigger bite out of its imports than exports. (Isabel Versiani and Elzio Barreto; Writing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa; editing by Carol Bishopric)