Brazil posted a $4.98 billion trade deficit in the first seven months of the year, due to record imports, the industry and trade ministry said Thursday. Imports rose 10 percent compared with the same period last year to $140 billion. Exports fell 1.5 percent to $135.2 billion during the period. During the same period of last year, the country posted a surplus of $9.92 billion. In July alone, the country recorded a deficit of $1.89 billion, with exports slumping 5.2 percent and imports surging 19.7 percent compared with the same month of last year. Over the first seven months of the year, exports to the United States dipped 14.2 percent while those to Africa fell 6.6. percent and those to the European Union by 6.4 percent. However exports to China were up 8.5 percent and those to Argentina 9.1 percent. During the period, imports soared 18.3 percent from Africa, 19 percent from Argentina, 11 per cent from the United States and 9.9 percent from the European Union.