Brazils Economy to Improve in 2014 Says Finance Minister

Brazil's Economy to Improve in 2014 Says Finance Minister

The country will boost exports thanks to growing economic confidence in the US and Europe, where demand for raw materials -- of which Brazil is a major producer -- should be back on the rise.

BRASÍLIA -- Investment and stronger exports will see Brazil's economy improve in 2014, Finance Minister Guido Mantega said Friday.

Mantega, aiming to lift some of the gloom a day after Brazil unveiled its worst trade balance in 13 years, revealed the country had surpassed its primary fiscal surplus target.

He said the surplus -- the amount by which revenue exceeds expenditure before debt payments -- had come in at 75 billion reais (US$31.5 billion) -- two billion ahead of its target.

The finance minister admitted that the $2.56 billion trade surplus in 2013, the lowest since 2000, was disappointing.

But "the balance will improve with increased oil production and derived products," he insisted.

He said Brazil will also be able to boost exports thanks to growing economic confidence in the United States and Europe, where demand for raw materials -- of which Brazil is a major producer -- should be back on the rise.

"The Brazilian economy is on a positive trajectory ... 2014 will be tangibly better than 2013," Mantega told a news conference.

Official forecasts see GDP, which rose barely 1% in 2012, as growing 2.3% when 2013's final data arrives.

They predict a 4% advance for 2014.

Mantega said what he saw as healthy fiscal results had been helped by a range of factors including resilient growth and higher tax receipts.

A raft of tax concessions "are working," he added.

The primary fiscal surplus amounts to around 1.5% of gross domestic product and relieved the market in what is an election year. With a presidential vote due in October,  President Dilma Rousseff is widely expected to run again and win a second term.

Mantega added he believed inflation, which outpaced an official 4.5% target last year by more than one percentage point, was under control.

Brazil, the world's seventh-largest economy and Latin America's biggest, is offering concessions on infrastructure, natural resources and transport as it tries to reduce the state's burden of spending.

Last year, for example, the government auctioned off the giant Libra oil field in deep waters off the Atlantic coast -- though the state retains a two-fifths stake in the enterprise.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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