UPDATE 1-Brazil forecasts 2020 trade surplus of $46.6 bln, down 3% on last year

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By Jamie McGeever and Marcela Ayres

BRASILIA, May 4 (Reuters) – Brazil’s trade with the rest of the world is expected to shrink 12% this year, the Economy Ministry said on Monday, with a slightly steeper nominal decline in exports narrowing the projected annual surplus to $46.6 billion.

That would be 3% less than the $48 billion surplus posted last year and, all else being equal, a slight downward drag on overall economic growth.

The Economy Ministry’s forecast comes in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that has brought huge swathes of global economic activity and trade to a sudden halt, and which will push many countries into their worst recessions in decades.

Brazilian growth is relatively insulated from a collapse in global trade because imports and exports only account for little more than 20% of gross domestic product, but is still expected to fall sharply.

According to Economy Ministry forecasts, total trade will fall 12.3% this year to $353 billion. That is comprised of a 11.4% decline in exports to $199.8 billion, and a 13.6% fall in imports to $153.2 billion.

The projections were made as the Ministry announced that Latin America’s largest economy posted a trade surplus of $6.7 billion in April, slightly more than the $6.15 billion surplus forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

The accumulated surplus in the first four months of the year was $12.3 billion, down 16.4% from $14.7 billion in the same period a year ago. (Reporting by Marcela Ayres Writing by Jamie McGeever Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)

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