Brazil’s overall trade surplus for all products equaled US$58.7 billion in 2018, up by 96.9% from its $29.8 billion surplus in 2011. Year over year, the $58.7 billion in black ink in 2018 reflects a -12.4% setback from its $67 billion surplus that Brazil generated for 2017.
Food products including soya beans, sugar, chicken, corn and frozen beef were major factors behind Brazil’s highest trade surpluses by product.
China and the Netherlands placed first and second respectively among trade partners from which Brazil generated the highest positive trade balances.
To put Brazil’s trade surplus metric into perspective, the country’s total external debt encompassing both public and private red ink equaled -$564.4 billion at March 2019. Brazil’s external debt is the equivalent of almost 10 times the magnitude of its positive international trade balance.
Top Brazilian Trade Balances by Product and Country
The following 10 leading products generated a surplus subtotal of $113.2 billion for Brazil in its global trade during 2018. Metrics listed below highlight Brazil’s strongest competitive advantages over worldwide trading partners in terms of commodities.
- Soya beans: US$33.1 billion (Up 103.1% since 2011)
- Iron ores, concentrates: $20.2 billion (Down -51.7%)
- Crude oil: $20.1 billion (Up 167%)
- Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving): $7.8 billion (Up 82.6%)
- Soya-bean oil-cake, other solid residues: $6.7 billion (Up 17.7%)
- Sugar (cane or beet): $6.5 billion (Down -56.3%)
- Poultry meat: $6 billion (Down -17.1%)
- Frozen beef: $4.4 billion (Up 30.7%)
- Coffee: $4.3 billion (Down -46%)
- Corn: $4 billion (Up 53.8%)
Leading increases for Brazil’s product surpluses from 2011 to 2018 were crude oil (up 167%), soya beans (up 103.1%), non-dissolving chemical woodpulp (up 82.6%), corn (up 53.8%) then frozen beef (up 30.7%).
The 10 major products below accumulated a deficit subtotal of -$40.9 billion for Brazil in international trade during 2018. Brazil exhibited the severest competitive disadvantages in terms of red ink from exporting and importing the following goods.
- Processed petroleum oils: -US$8.7 billion (Down -30.8% since 2011)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: -$4.5 billion (Up 8.3%)
- Phone system devices including smartphones: -$4 billion (Up 12.2%)
- Light vessels, fire boats, floating docks: -$3.9 billion (Reversing a $1 billion surplus)
- Petroleum gases: -$3.69 billion (Down -18.6%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: -$3.66 billion (Up 57%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: -$3.4 billion (Down -21.2%)
- Blood fractions (including antisera): -$3.2 billion (Up 25.7%)
- Potassic fertilizers: -$3.1 billion (Down -11.1%)
- Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides: -$2.7 billion (Up 78.5%)
Excluding the high capital cost light vessels, fire boats and floating docks category, Brazil’s red ink in global trade expanded at the fastest pace for the following products: packaged insecticides, fungicides and herbicides (up 78.5%), automobile parts or accessories (up 57%), blood fractions including antisera (up 25.7%) and phone system devices including smartphones (up 12.2%)
The greatest decrease in product deficits belongs to refined petroleum oils via its -30.8% reduction.
In 2018, Brazil earned a surplus subtotal worth $60.9 billion with the following 10 trading partners.
- China: US$29.5 billion (Up 155.8% since 2011)
- Netherlands: $11.4 billion (Up 0.04%)
- Argentina: $3.9 billion (Down -32.8%)
- Chile: $3 billion (Up 245.2%)
- Singapore: $2.9 billion (Up 49.4%)
- Iran: $2.22 billion (Down -3%)
- Spain: $2.21 billion (Up 57.1%)
- Hong Kong: $2 billion (Up 66%)
- Panama: $1.9 billion (Up 380.7%)
- Egypt: $1.86 billion (Down -18.2%)
Seven top Brazilian trade surpluses expanded since 2011 led by Panama (up 380.7%), Chile (up 245.2%), China (up 155.8%) and Hong Kong (up 66%).
Meanwhile, both Brazil’s red ink shrank in trade with Argentina (down -32.8%), Egypt (down -18.2%) and Iran (down -3%).
Brazil experienced a deficit with 47 of its export customers during 2018. The following 10 trade partners created a -$17 billion deficit subtotal from Brazil’s exchange of exports and imports on international markets.
- Germany: -US$5.3 billion (Down -13.5% since 2011)
- South Korea: -$1.9 billion (Down -64%)
- Russia: -$1.7 billion (Reversing a $1.3 billion surplus)
- Switzerland: -$1.43 billion (Up 19.4%)
- Algeria: -$1.41 billion (Down -14%)
- France: -$1.3 billion (Up 16.2%)
- Taiwan: -$1 billion (Down -13.3%)
- Nigeria: -$964.2 million (Down -86.6%)
- Italy: -$962.4 million (Up 22.1%)
- Austria: -$904.1 million (Down -14.1%)
Brazil’s top county-specific trade deficits in 2018 compared to 2011 grew at the fastest percentage pace with Italy (up 22.1%), Switzerland (up 19.4%) and France (up 16.2%).
Brazil trimmed the size of its negative trade balances with six of its top partners led by Nigeria (down -86.6%), South Korea (down -64%) and Austria (down -14.1%).
See also Brazil’s Top 10 Imports, Brazil’s Top Trade Partners, Brazil’s Top 10 Exports and Brazil’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
External Debt (for specified countries), CEIC Data. Accessed on August 9, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on August 9, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on January 21, 2019
The World Factbook, Field Listing: World, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on January 21, 2019
Wikipedia, Economy of Brazil. Accessed on January 21, 2019