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    5.2​ Balance of payments, current account
       Despite the global economic recession, Ukraine’s trade deficit dropped by half, from $10.22bn to $4.9bn in 2020​, Taras Kachka, Ukraine’s Trade Representative, wrote on Facebook. Helped by strong commodity prices, Ukraine’s exports were down only 1.7%, to $49.3bn, he writes. In the month of December, exports were up 18% y/y, to $4.9bn. Kachka writes: “The secret of December numbers is pretty simple - metal and ore prices are rising worldwide at a crazy rate.”
Ukraine’s balance of payments was almost flat in November, recording an insignificant deficit of $15mn (vs. a $343mn deficit in October). ​In 11M20, the balance of payments deficit amounted to $0.8bn (vs. a $2.7bn surplus in 11M19).
For the first ten months of the year, the country's exports fell almost by 5percent compared to the same period in 2019 reaching $30.8bn, ​while the shortage of imports was 12.2% and reached $32.8bn.
Helped by cheaper energy import prices, Ukraine’s trade deficit in goods is running at half the level of last year, ​reported the State Customs Service. Through November 2020, the trade deficit was $3.93bn, down from $8.15bn recorded during the first 10 months of last year. Year over year, exports were down 3.5%, while imports were down 10.8%.
 5.2.1 ​Import/export dynamics
       Measured in volume, grain exports are down by 14% — to 20mn tons ​— as of December since the marketing year started July 1. Corn exports are down 26% y/y, to 6mn tons. Wheat exports are down 11.5%, to 12mn tons. By June 2021, the government predicted that Ukraine’s grain exports could be down 17% over last year’s record exports of 57mn tons.
Despite a poor harvest, exports of the top three grains – corn, wheat and barley – were down only 2.3% y/y in dollar terms, to $9.4bn for 2020. “Due to the reduction in the harvest, physical exports are smaller than last year,” wrote Kachka, who is also deputy minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture. “But this decrease in physical exports is compensated for price increases.”
Despite the global recession, the volume of goods going through Ukraine’s seaports was virtually unchanged in 2020 compared to 2019​, according to Ukraine’s Sea Ports Authority. Last year, Ukraine’s ports handled 159mn tons of cargo, 0.7% less than in 2019. Grain exports were down 12%, to 48mn tons. Ore exports were up 18.5%, to 44mn tons. Overall exports ended the year up 1.5%, to 123mn tons. Imports were down 8.6%, to 24mn tons. Transit was down 9%, to 10mn tons. Coastal was up 11%, to 2.4mn tons. And containers were up 4%, to 1mn.
Ukraine is selling less food, but making more money, ​calculates Alfa-Bank Ukraine. “Decreased crops have been more than compensated by elevated prices for key commodities,” Oleskiy Blinov, Alfa’s head of research, writes in
 28​ UKRAINE Country Report​ January 2021 ​ ​

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