The impact of Covid-19 on the Peruvian economy is now beginning to be revealed in official statistics. Exports for March, when the emergency began mid-month, were down 37.6% on the same month a year before. Traditional exports were down 41.6%, while non-traditional exports were down 27.7%. Exports for the first quarter were down 13.6% on the first quarter in 2019, traditional exports 15.4%, and non-traditional 9.4%. For the first time in many years there was a trade deficit in March of US$252 million.
Mining exports make up the lion’s share of traditional exports, falling 37.1% in March (over March 2019) and 9.6% in the first quarter (over that of 2019). While volumes were down slightly in the March figures, the main reason was the sharp fall in prices for almost all Peru’s mining exports. The only exception to the rule here was gold (for which average prices were 23.4% higher than in March 2019). Copper prices were down a full 25%, reflecting the impact of the Covid-19 virus on world markets, especially in China which is the destination of most of Peru’s production.
Adex, the association of exporters, expects exports to fall by up to 34% in 2020. To mitigate this, Adex has been pushing for a relaxation of controls over all export activities, subject to necessary protocols.
INEI, the national statistics office, this week also published its growth figures for March and the first quarter. In March itself, output was down a full 16.3% on the same month last year. Almost all sectors were affected, but with construction activity falling by 46.3%.
Over the first quarter, GDP declined by 3.4% compared with 2019.