Problems Involving the Discrepancy of the Data in the Trade Balance

BRAZIL ECONOMICS - Report 18 Oct 2021 by Affonso Pastore, Cristina Pinotti and Paula Magalhães

Until 2017, the data on imports and exports gathered by the Secretariat of Foreign Commerce (Secex) of the Ministry of the Economy and by the Central Bank had few discrepancies. Since 2018, however, the two data series have been increasingly deviating from each other. While in 2020, the Secex registered a surplus of US$ 50.4 billion in the trade balance (US$ 209.2 in exports and US$ 158.8 billion worth of imports), the Central Bank tallied a surplus of only US$ 32.4 billion (US$ 210.7 in exports versus US$ 178.3 in imports). Table 1 details the differences between 2019 and the period from January to August 2021, while Graph 1 depicts the rising differences. What are the reasons for these differences? In light of them, what care is needed in interpreting the data and making projections for the trade balance?

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