Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Despite March decline, Mexico’s export revenue still shows upward trend

Mexico’s export earnings declined more than 5% in March compared to the same month of 2023, but first-quarter revenue still increased, according to preliminary data published on Friday.

Exports fell 5.3% to US $50.75 billion last month, the national statistics agency INEGI reported. The decline in export revenue came after a 13% increase in February.

A container ship arrives into Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan.
February had seen a spike of 13% in export revenue in Mexico, and the total for the first three months of the year was up 1.7% over 2023. (Port of Lázaro Cárdenas)

Between January and March, export revenue totaled $143.43 billion, a 1.7% increase compared to the first quarter of 2023. Over 80% of Mexico’s export earnings comes from goods shipped to the United States.

Imports to Mexico also declined in March, falling 7.1% on an annual basis to $48.65 billion.

Mexico thus recorded a trade surplus of $2.1 billion in March, a figure over four times higher than the $450 million median forecast of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Imports in the first three months of the year increased 0.2% to $146.23 billion, leaving Mexico with a $2.8 billion trade deficit in the first quarter.

3 of 4 export categories declined in March  

INEGI data shows that oil, mining and manufacturing exports all fell last month, while agricultural exports increased. One factor that likely contributed to the overall 5.3% decline in exports was that this year’s Easter holiday week fell in March whereas it was in April in 2023. Non-oil exports to the United States declined 2.8% while those sent to the rest of the world fell 13.1%.

  • Oil exports declined 21.4% in March to $2.02 billion. Oil brought in $7.37 billion in revenue in Q1, a 2.6% decline compared to the first three months of last year.

The double-digit decline in export revenue in March came after Pemex’s crude production in February fell to its lowest level in 45 years. Mexico is also keeping more oil at home as it seeks to reach self-sufficiency for fuel.

  • Manufacturing exports fell 4.5% in March to $45.47 billion. However, revenue increased 1.9% to $127.09 billion in the first three months of the year.
  • Mining exports decreased 25.2% in March to $793.6 million. Earnings declined 9.9% to $2.27 billion in Q1.
  • Agricultural exports increased 6% in March to $2.45 billion. Revenue increased to $6.68 billion between January and March, a 6.3% increase compared to the first three months of 2023.
Mine in Zacatecas
Export earnings from mining dropped by 25% annually in March and almost 10% over the first quarter of the year. (Cuartoscuro)

Considered together, non-oil exports declined 4.5% last month, but increased 1.9% in the first quarter of 2024.

The value of Mexico’s exports increased 2.6% last year to reach a record high of US $593.01 billion. Data shows that Mexico was the ninth largest exporter in 2023, and the top exporter to the United States, ousting China from that position.

Mexico’s imports in detail

The 7.1% annual decline in imports in March came after a 9.7% increase in February.

  • Oil imports declined 39% last month to $3.17 billion, while they fell 36.8% in Q1 to $9.88 billion. Pemex CEO Octavio Romero said in January that Mexico would stop importing gasoline in the not-too-distant future, although projections he presented showed that Mexican production won’t meet demand in the coming years and that the soonest self-sufficiency can be achieved is 2027.
  • Imports of non-oil consumer goods such as food, clothes and homeware increased 8.3% to $6.15 billion in March. Imports jumped 21.9% to $18.89 billion in the first three months of the year.
  • Imports of non-oil intermediate goods — often used by factories to produce final goods — fell 5.4% to $34.61 billion in March. They rose 1.2% in the first three months of the year to $102.77 billion.
  • Imports of capital goods such as manufacturing machinery, tools and heavy equipment fell 4.4% to $4.7 billion in March, but increased 11.1% to $14.67 billion in Q1.

Excluding oil, imports declined by a more modest 3.6% in March. In the first three months of the year, non-oil imports rose 4.7%, well above the 0.2% overall increase.

The publication of the export and import data comes four days after INEGI reported that the Mexican economy grew 1.4% in February compared to January, the fastest month-over-month rate since September 2020. GDP increased 2.6% on an annual basis in February.

The International Monetary Fund last week revised its economic growth forecast for Mexico in 2024 to 2.4% from 2.7%, citing “weaker-than-expected” outcomes early in the year.

With reports from El Economista 

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