viernes, 25 de enero de 2013

A first for Mexico in 15 years...

The 2012 trade figures show Mexico posted a very small US$163 million trade surplus. It's not the country's first trade surplus since 1980. But it is the first time since 1997 that there's been a trade account surplus and that the surplus was posted in a year when the economy grew at a healthy rate. Typically, Mexico's trade surpluses were the consequence of the adjustment to a balance of payments crisis: a maxi-devaluation depresses imports and boosts exports, producing a trade surplus.

High oil prices weren't the reason for the 2012 trade surplus although the average price of Mexican crude last year was the highest ever: oil export income dipped 5.9% in 2012. The key to the surplus was that total export revenue grew at a rate that was half a percentage point higher than the growth rate of imports. Manufactured exports (81.4% of total exports) grew 8.4% while imported intermediate goods (three-quarters of total imports) rose just 5.3%.

If this means that the producers of manufactured exports have been able to substitute domestic suppliers for foreign ones, it implies that faster growth will no longer automatically translate into larger trade account deficits. That would be very good news indeed.

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