Uruguayan external sales of goods, including those from free zones, fell again in May. The decrease was explained by lower exports of beef and soybeans. The forecast is that the year ends with red numbers compared to last year.
The Uruguay XXI Institute reported on Thursday the export figures for May. They reached US$ 1,059 million with a year-on-year decrease of 31%. In the first five months of the year they accumulated US$ 4,722 million with a drop of 14% compared to the same period in 2022.
With the data for May, exports have accumulated eight consecutive months of decline. The monthly drop was once again due to the reduction in soybean exports. Seed sales fell 65% year-on-year. The poor performance of soybeans is the result of a bad harvest as a consequence of the drought that affects the country and also a drop in international prices.
The first product for sale was beef. Uruguay XXI pointed out that in May US$ 196 million were exported with a drop of 31%. The main buyers were China, the European Union (EU) and the United States, but all with fewer records in the year-on-year comparison.
The second was the soy with sales of US$ 164 million. The report explained that the effects of the drought caused a sharp drop in the harvest.
In third place was the cellulose also with a retraction compared to 2022. In May exports were US$ 139 million with a drop of 4%, despite the increasing export volumes with the start of operations of the UPM plant in Paso de los Toros.
Then the item of dairy products which also registered a drop in May. Loans were for US$ 71 million with a decrease of 12%. Exports similar to those of a year ago were achieved, but there were falls in cheese and cottage cheese (5%) and butter with 84%. The largest sales were to Brazil, which managed to multiply by three. In contrast, the institute said, the remaining destinations, Algeria and China, fell 84% and 95%, respectively.
In the breakdown by destinations, China once again occupied the first place in the ranking in the month and represented 30% of the total. Loans were for US$ 219 million, 32% less than in the same month last year.
The second was Brazil with purchases for US$ 162 million, slightly above the monthly record for 2022.
The EU was ranked as the third destination, with a participation of 11% of the total, with US$ 79 million and a decrease of 37% in the interannual relation. The main product was beef.
Then there was the United States with 9% of the total sold. Exports were US$ 66 million, 20% below May 2022. Beef represented 41% of the total, followed by meat by-products with 22% and wood with 12%.
The fifth destination was Argentina. The placements were for US$ 61 million, with a drop of 61%.
Uruguay XXI made a projection for the rest of the year. He indicated that since the second half of 2022, exports of goods were affected by the less favorable international context and with significant falls, mainly in sales of meat and meat by-products.
He recalled that last year a record of exports was achieved with US$ 13,370 million. The good performance was obtained when the maximum prices of commodities, exceptionally high agricultural yields and strong external demand coincided. But due to a change in international prices and the cooling of external demand from the second half of 2022, a sharp slowdown began, the report indicated.
Uruguay XXI summarized that after two years of strong growth in exports of goods in Uruguay, and in the midst of one of the most important droughts in the last 30 years, in 2023 there would be an 11% drop in exports of goods that will total approximately US$ 12,000 million. “This is explained by a sharp contraction in exports of agricultural goods, with marked falls in soybeans and beef, mainly affected by the drought, which will be offset by an increase in pulp exports,” he said.