(Recast and adds trade data)
BRASILIA, March 2 (Reuters) - Brazil posted its biggest trade deficit ever for the month of February as prices of key exports continued to drop, government data showed on Monday.
Brazil recorded a trade deficit of $2.842 billion in February, wider than the gap of $2.2 billion expected by nine analysts surveyed by Reuters. It is the biggest deficit for that month in a historical series that began in 1980.
A plunge in the price of key exports such as iron ore and soy pushed Brazil’s trade balance into the red last year for the first time in 14 years.
Exports of soybeans and iron ore fell 72 percent and 36 percent respectively in February from a year earlier.
Trade Minister Armando Monteiro has said Brazil will focus on bolstering exports to the United States, until recently the country’s main trade partner.
Monteiro’s task will be a challenging one as the government of President Dilma Rousseff slashes export promotion programs in order to meet a key fiscal savings goal this year.
Finance Minister Joaquim Levy last Friday announced budget cuts that will lower tax benefits for exporters over the next three years.
The country posted a trade deficit of $3.174 billion in January. (Reporting by Alonso Soto; Editing by Bernadette Baum)