Mexico's April merchandise trade deficit widened to a
seasonally-adjusted $899.5 million, after revised deficits of
$368.5 million in March and $666.7 million in February.
According to the report, the value of Mexican exports fell in April
to $31.116 billion, the lowest level in three months. Sales
abroad during April were down 2.2%, erasing their 2.1% gain in
March. Imports in April fell to $32.015 billion, but that was
only a slight 0.5% decrease, and it was not enough to erase the
import rise in the previous month. On an unadjusted basis,
April exports were up 6.4% from the same month one year earlier,
while imports were up 11.8%.
Manufactured goods make up the vast majority of Mexico's
merchandise exports, and in April, they were up 6.8%
year-over-year. The major manufactured exports showing the
biggest increases were professional and scientific equipment, food
and beverages, and rubber and plastics. Crude oil and other
petroleum products are the second-most important category of
Mexican exports, and they were down 1.7% year-over-year in
April. Within this category, Mexican crude oil exports
totaled 1.275 million barrels per day, up 2.6% from April
2012. However, the average export price for Mexican crude
fell to $99.64 per barrel, down 7.8% from one year earlier.
Finally, Mexican agriculture exports in April were up 16.5%
year-over-year. Among the agricultural products showing the
best performances, cucumber exports were up 79.3%, onion and garlic
exports were up 56.5%, and pepper exports were up 38.1%.
Among the agricultural products showing the worst performances,
frozen shrimp exports were down 26.0%, cattle exports were down
37.5%, and coffee exports were down 45.3%.
The report was released Monday by the official statistics agency
Comment: The Mexican economy is
rebounding from its soft spot at the turn of the year, but Monday's
trade figures are a reminder that the improvement is tentative and
incomplete. For example, the most recent trend in exports is
only slightly positive. Manufacturing output is growing, but
only modestly. Construction activity is finally increasing
again, but that is largely offset by continued weakness in consumer
spending. What the Mexican economy really needs now is a
significant acceleration in U.S. demand and more economic reforms
to free up the economy and encourage investors.
Unfortunately, those developments are unfolding relatively
slowly. The recent correction in the Mexican stock market and
the pullback in the value of the peso could therefore continue for
a while yet.
Patrick Fearon, CFA
Vice President, Fund Management