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BRASILIA: Brazil's trade surplus in August widened from the same month a year ago thanks to a steeper decline in imports than exports, government data showed on Monday, but the accumulated surplus so far in 2019, is notably down from the same period last year.

Brazil posted a trade surplus of $3.28 billion last month, the widest surplus for the month of August since 2017, and almost 20pc wider than the $2.28 billion surplus in August last year, the Economy Ministry said.

The median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists was for a surplus of $3.20 billion.

Exports fell 8.4pc from a year ago to $18.85 billion in August, while imports slumped 13.3pc to $15.57 billion, reflecting a broad slowdown in cross-border trade as global growth slowed over the year.

A surprisingly weak domestic economy - it has essentially stagnated this year - curbed imports, while exports were hit by declining orders and prices of soy, and weaker auto demand from crisis-hit neighbor and third largest trading partner Argentina.

So far this year, Brazil has chalked up a trade surplus of $31.76 billion.

That's down 13.4pc from the $36.67 billion registered in the first eight months of last year, and all else being equal, is a drag on overall economic growth.

Economists and analysts surveyed in the central bank's weekly 'FOCUS' polls project a trade surplus of $52.35 billion this year, which would be around 10pc lower than the $58.0 billion surplus registered in 2018.

The Economy Ministry estimates a trade surplus of $56.7 billion for this year, although that forecast made in July is expected to be revised next month.

Copyright Reuters, 2019