Brazilian exports reach highest value in five years

Foreign sales from Brazil reached USD 239.5 billion in 2018, a 9.6% increase over 2017. Imports grew 19.7%, reaching USD 181.2 billion. The balance stood at USD 58.3 billion positive, the second highest value.

From the Newsroom

São Paulo – Brazilian exports reached USD 239.5 billion in 2018, registering a 9.6% growth in comparison with 2017. It is the highest value of the last five years. The imports totaled USD 181.2 billion, a value 19.7% higher than in 2017 and the highest since 2014. The trade balance, that is the difference between the two operations, stood positive at USD 58.3 billion, a value 13.3% lower than in 2017.

The data were released this Wednesday (2) by the newly created Ministry of Economy, which assimilated the now extinct Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC) and will be responsible for the official statistics of Brazilian foreign trade.

The rise in exports happened for the second year running, after declining in the previous years. According to the ministry, the exported volume in 2018 is close to the 2013 levels, when USD 242 billion were shipped.

There was a 17.2% growth in exports of basic products, totaling USD 118.9 billion, and a 7.4% one in manufactured products, which reached USD 86.6 billion, while semi-manufactured products registered a 3.1% reduction, standing at USD 30.6 billion.

The ministry stated that the export growth is a result of both the increase in shipped volumes (4.1%) and prices (5.1%). Exports of basic products influenced the performance, since the category had a 9.8% increase in shipped volume. Manufactured products increased 2.6% and semi-manufactured declined 4.6% in exported volume.

The export performance of semi-manufactures was negatively influenced by the 22% drop in shipped quantity and a 23.8% price drop of raw sugar. In 2017, the foreign sales of this product were record.

Exports in 2018 registered records in quantity and value among several products, such as soy, crude oil and cellulose. There were also records in the shipped quantities of iron ore, soybean meal, and orange juice.

The main markets of Brazilian exports showed a positive performance: China bought USD 66.6 billion, a 32.2% rise; European Union totalized USD 42.1 billion, a 20.1% growth; and the United States imported USD 28.8 billion, a 6.6% rise.

Argentina is still the main trade partner of Brazil in Latin America, but the exports to that country dropped 15.5% in the comparison with 2017, reaching USD 14.9 billion. The reduction of exports of the automotive sector, according to the official release, was the one that most impacted the overall drop in exports to Argentina, which is going through an economic crisis.


The increase in imports for the second consecutive year happened after dramatic drops of more than 20% in 2015 and 2016, due to domestic demand contractions, mainly from the industry. In comparison with the performance in the previous years, the 2018 result surpassed the one registered in 2015, when USD 171.5 billion were imported.

In 2018, there was an increase in imports in all economic categories: capital goods, with USD 28.6 billion (76.5%); intermediate goods, with USD 104.9 billion (11.6%); consumer goods, with USD 25.5 billion (9.1%); and fuels and lubricants, with USD 22 billion (24.9%). Over the year, the imports were mostly composed by fuels, supplies and capital goods, amounting to 85% of the total bought by the country.

The main Brazilian trading partners in imports are the same of the exports: China sold USD 35.5 billion (a 26.6% growth); European Union 34.8 billion (a 7.9% growth); the United States USD 28.9 billion, a 16.1% rise; and Argentina shipped USD 11.1 billion, a 16.7% growth over 2017.


In 2018, Brazil registered a trade surplus of USD 58.3 billion; according to the Ministry of Economy, although the value was lower than in 2017, the balance was the second highest since the beginning of the historical series in 1989.

The so-called petroleum account, of exports and imports of oil and its derivatives, experience a record surplus of USD 9.3 billion in 2018, a significant growth in the comparison with 2017 result, USD 3.7 billion, the previous record. Exports of oil and its derivatives grew 47.1%, arriving at USD 31.3 billion, and the imports grew 25.1%, arriving at USD 21.9 billion.

Translated by Guilherme Miranda

Ivan Bueno/Appa

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