Argentina posts first trade deficit since 2018 after port strike

Argentina posted its first trade deficit since August 2018 as exports collapsed after a lengthy strike in some port operations.

The country recorded a trade deficit of US$ 364 million in December, compared to a US$ 500-million surplus forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey, government data published Tuesday showed. While imports grew 25 percent in annual terms driven by an economic recovery, exports slumped by 34 percent.

Exporters in Argentina, the world’s biggest supplier of soy products, were hurt by a 29-day strike from grain inspectors and tugboat pilots that curtailed port operations and shipments last month. The collapse in exports, even by temporary factors, is another negative development for an economy that desperately needs hard currency to finance its operations amid tight capital controls.

Separately, the INDEC national statistics bureau also said Tuesday that Argentina’s economic activity rose 1.4 percent in November, slightly better than the one percent growth expected by analysts. South America’s second-biggest economy is slowly recovering after one of the region’s strictest lockdowns since the pandemic started in March.

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by Scott Squires, Bloomberg

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