(Adds detail on record, fall in beef exports)
BRASILIA, April 3 (Reuters) - Brazil posted a record trade surplus for March, reaching $7.1 billion, government data showed on Monday, surpassing market expectations despite a small drop in beef exports after a corruption scandal in the sector led to temporary import bans.
Exports totaled $20.1 billion and imports $12.9 billion. Economists in a Reuters poll predicted a surplus of $6.8 billion, according to their median forecast.
The meat scandal, which saw China and Hong Kong impose import bans, appeared to have less of an impact on export numbers than some had anticipated.
Exports of beef were down just 6.1 percent compared with the same month last year, while poultry and pork exports rose 7 percent and 33.4 percent respectively.
Reporting by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Diane Craft and Lisa Shumaker