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Higher volumes of energy products boost exports

Energy products exports rose 25.1% to $8.6 billion, the third consecutive monthly gain, with volumes accounting for almost two-thirds of the increase. Widespread gains throughout the sector were led by exports of crude petroleum, which increased 24.2% to $5.0 billion, the highest level since December 2009. Exports of petroleum and coal products also contributed to the gain as production resumed at some refineries following maintenance work.

Exports of industrial goods and materials increased 7.0% to a record high of $10.3 billion, as exports of precious metals and copper ores reached unprecedented levels. Prices in the sector rose 4.5%, while volumes increased 2.4%. Exports of precious metals rose 25.8% during the month and have more than doubled since January 2010. Exports of nickel ores and copper ores also increased in December, following large declines in the previous month.

Exports of machinery and equipment grew 8.2% to $6.9 billion, as volumes rose 8.6%. Exports of aircraft, engines and parts accounted for over three-quarters of the sector's gain.

Exports of agricultural and fishing products increased 7.6% to $3.5 billion. Gains throughout the sector were led by higher exports of wheat, which have been rising for five consecutive months. Wheat prices have been trending upwards since April 2010.

Forestry products exports rose 9.7% to $2.0 billion, as volumes increased 10.8%. Exports of wood pulp and other wood products grew to $621 million in December, the highest value since August 2007, reflecting higher demand from China.

Other consumer goods moderate the growth in imports

Imports of energy products increased 3.5% to $3.3 billion in December, the result of higher prices. Imports of crude petroleum grew 18.6%, following the completion of maintenance work in some refineries. Imports of coal and other related products, namely natural gas, declined after a strong gain in the previous month.

After three consecutive months of decreases, imports of agricultural and fishing products rose 3.5% to a record high of $2.6 billion. The growth in the sector was led by higher imports of crude vegetable products. In contrast, imports of sugar and sugar preparations fell during the month.

Imports of automotive products increased 0.8% to $5.4 billion, as volumes rose. The gain was the result of higher imports of motor vehicle parts, as production resumed following some plant shutdowns in November.

Imports of other consumer goods decreased 1.7% to $4.9 billion. Imports of miscellaneous end products, which include medicinal and pharmaceutical products, led the decline.