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Trades surprise in 2017

Unlike expectations, 2017 was positive for international trades in Brazil and in the international scenario. In the first months of the year, trust was in crisis in the international trades, specifically due to the protectionist policy in the United States and in some European countries. The Brexit in the United Kingdom, Donald Trump’s election in the United States as well as the revival of extreme right in France, Germany and Austria pointed to the need to promote economic and social integration by leaderships. The discontentment regarding results attributed to globalization and multilateralism gained power during the year.


Still, 2017 turned out to be positive, revealing that the good economic performance prevails over nationalist policies.


Indeed, the recovery of trades is attributed to the global growth, which started to increase since 2016, after a period of stagnation and turbulence in the financial market. Global economy gave positive signs in 2017, showing wide and synchronized growth, higher than expected, at 3.6% per year, according to an estimate released in October/17 by the International Monetary Fund. Estimates were revised up for countries in the Euro zone, Japan, Russia and Asian developing countries and offset negative growth estimates for the United States and United Kingdom. According to the IMF, the growth accelerations represent roughly 75% of the global economy.


In September 2017, the World Trade Organization (WTO) revised up international trades. The organization indicated a 3.6% increase in the volume of trades, followed by a 2.8% GDP increase with the market exchange rate. The higher-than-expected increase was determined by Asia and North America, where the demand for imports showed a recovery from the weak result obtained in 2016.


Both exportations and importations increased in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period of the year before in all regions evaluated by the WTO, except in South America, where trades were practically stable. In Europe, shipments increased 2.6% and importations, 1.2%. Asian exportations rose 7.3% and importations, 8.9%, which is partly attributed to the significant growth in China.


An OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) analysis for G20 confirms the WTO estimates, indicating a significant acceleration of international trades of goods in the last four months of 2017 – adjusted to seasonality and expressed in USD – with both exportations and importations moving up 4.3% for the group of countries. This was the highest rate since the first semester of 2011. The relation between trade growth rate and the global GDP increase rate moved from 0.6 in 2016 to 1.3 in 2017.


In Brazil, after two years of economic slowdown in 2015 and 2016, the economic result was slightly positive in 2017, presenting a growth rate, although decreasing in the first three quarters of the year. Exportations and importations presented a positive result from January to November 2017, and exportations surpassed importations of basic, manufactured and semi-manufactured products. Indeed, exportations resumed increasing after a five-year period, while importations resumed increasing after three years of decreases. The positive result was attributed to both higher volume and quotes, compared to 2016, when Brazilian shipments and importations dropped, and the balance trade indicated a deficit because purchases decreased less than exportations did. In December/17, Brazilian shipments totaled 17.6 billion USD, 21.4% up compared to December/16. Importations, in turn, amounted to 12.6 billion USD, for an increase of 20.2%.


Therefore, the question is: will 2018 keep the positive performance? In the international market, players expect the positive scenario to continue this year, but at more moderated rates, due to the good development in 2017. In the Brazilian economy, although the growth trend has been revised up, effects of political and fiscal crisis have not yet dissipated and the enthusiasm for 2018 is limited. Besides, the exchange rate may undergo significant oscillations, similar to what was observed in previous election years marked by uncertainties.

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