* Lackluster economies at home and abroad hit trade flows
* Gov’t cuts 2012 export revenue forecast to around $256 bln
* Trade surplus down 34 pct in Jan-Aug versus year ago
By Luciana Otoni
BRASILIA, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Brazil’s trade surplus fell sharply in August from a year ago, forcing the government to cut its forecast for exports revenue this year as a gloomy world economy curbs the price and demand for local products.
The trade surplus was $3.227 billion in August, the Trade Ministry said o n M onday, above the $2.9 billion posted in July and analysts’ median forecast of $3 billion.
Still, the surplus fell 17 percent in August when compared with the same month last year.
A fall in both volume and prices of key exports such as iron-ore and sugar has dragged down Brazil’s trade surplus this year, causing the government to forecast zero growth in exports at best.
“We are fighting to keep exports at the same levels of 2011,” Deputy Trade Minister Alessandro Teixeira told reporters in Brasilia. “We are facing a very adverse outlook for exports in both the type of products and the (economic) health of our partners. There is not much we can do.”
In 2011, Brazilian exports reached $256 billion. The government had originally forecast exports of $264 billion this year.
Teixeira said the global slowdown has hit the appetites of major commodity consumers like China and India.
In the first eight months of the year, Brazil’s export revenues fell 3.7 percent from the same period a year ago, which contributed to the sharp drop in the trade surplus.
Brazil’s trade surplus fell 34.1 percent in the January-August period compared with the same period last year.
Export volumes of iron-ore fell 3 percent while prices fell 24 percent in the first eight months of 2012 versus the previous year. Sugar export volumes tumbled 19 percent, while prices fell 24 percent in that same period.
On the other hand, imports have remained stable as Brazilian’s appetite for foreign products remained steady despite lackluster activity at home and a weaker local currency. Imports rose 0.5 percent in the first eight months of 2012 versus the previous year.