Brazil posts $4.5 billion trade surplus in May, down 11% on the year

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil posted a trade surplus of $4.5 billion in May, official data showed on Monday, as exports fell more steeply than imports, dragging the accumulated surplus over the first five months of the year further down from 2019.

May’s trade surplus, which was slightly below the $4.74 billion forecast in a Reuters poll of economists, was down 11.1% from the same month last year and the lowest May surplus registered in five years.

Exports totaled $17.9 billion in the month and imports were $13.4 billion, down 4.2% and 1.6% respectively, the Economy Ministry said. The total flow of cross-border commerce in May was down 3% from a year ago, reflecting the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Trade has been a drag on Brazilian economic growth in recent years, and the accumulated figures for the January-May period suggest this continues to be the case.

The trade surplus in the first five months, $16.3 billion, was 17.9% smaller than the same period last year, the Economy Ministry said, with imports falling 0.6% to $68.9 billion but exports falling 4.5% to $85.3 billion.

The relative weakness of exports occurred despite a significant depreciation in the real’s exchange rate. Brazil’s currency hit a record low near 6.00 per dollar in May, marking a fall of as much as 30% from May last year.

Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Steve Orlofsky