(Adds context on current account deficit, details of economic forecast)
LIMA, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Peru’s finance ministry widened its view of the 2014 trade deficit on Friday to $2.51 billion, more than double its last forecast and in line with the shortfall registered so far this year.
Nevertheless, the government trimmed its estimate for the 2014 current account deficit to 4.8 percent of gross domestic product from 5.1 percent, the finance ministry said in a biannual macroeconomic report.
But the finance ministry said the sales of foreign assets in Peru will likely add $900 million to transfers this year, easing the current account deficit that ballooned to 7.3 percent of gross domestic product in the second quarter.
In its last report, in April, the finance ministry said the trade deficit this year would likely be $1.03 billion.
But Peru logged a $2.43 billion trade gap in the first half of 2014 as the Andean country’s traditional mineral exports tumbled on lower prices and weak output.
Last year Peru, a top global exporter of copper, gold and silver, posted its first trade deficit in more than a decade.
Imports will continue to outpace exports through 2016, the finance ministry said, retreating from its previous view that the country would start seeing surpluses again next year with the ramping up of big copper mines.
It now sees a $2 billion trade deficit in 2015 instead of a$61 million trade surplus, and a $690 million deficit in 2016.
Mineral exports typically make up about 60 percent of export earnings in Peru.
Weak mining activity has dragged down Peru’s economic growth rate this year to its slowest pace since 2009.
Earlier this week the finance minister announced that the government had cut its view of this year’s economic expansion to 4.2 percent from its earlier estimate of 5.5 percent.
The new figure reflects the government’s optimistic take on growth in the second half of 2014. In the first six months of the year the economy expanded just 3.3 percent from the same period a year earlier.
Even as growth has slowed, inflation will likely remain higher than previously expected this year.
Peru raised its estimate of inflation this year to 3 percent from its earlier view of 2.8 percent, according to the finance ministry report.
Inflation has remained slightly above the ceiling of the central bank’s 1 to 3 percent target range all year, limiting the monetary authority’s appetite for cutting the benchmark interest rate to counter the economic slowdown.
The central bank surprised the market by holding the key rate steady this month, citing stubborn supply factors fueling inflation, following its 0.25 percent rate cut in July.
The annual inflation rate eased slightly to 3.33 percent in July.
The finance ministry held its estimate of a fiscal balance equal to zero percent of gross domestic product, despite a boost in public spending announced by President Ollanta Humala to stimulate economic growth.
Reporting by Marco Aquino; editing by Franklin Paul, Andrea Ricci and Matthew Lewis