UpdateJapan posts record $17bn trade deficit in Jan as imports surge

20 February 2013 05:40  [Source: ICIS news]

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TOKYO (ICIS)--Japan’s trade deficit widened to a record yen (Y) 1,629bn ($17.4bn) in January this year from Y1,481bn a year earlier as imports outpaced exports, the Ministry of Finance said on Tuesday.

The country’s overall exports rose by 6.4% year on year to Y4,799bn in January this year, while imports was up by 7.3% at Y6,429bn, it said in a statement.

Exports of organic chemicals at Y198.1bn, a 31% year-on-year increase; and motor vehicle parts that rose by 16% to Y235.1bn, particularly contributed to the overall increase in exports, the ministry said.

Overall imports were boosted especially by petroleum products, which stood at Y256.3bn, a 34% year-on-year increase, and liquefied natural gas (LNG), which rose by 11% to Y606.8bn, the ministry added.

Total exports of plastic materials increased by 9.9% to Y150.0bn in January from the previous year, according to the ministry.

Japan’s exports of organic chemicals to China plummeted by 56% year on year to Y70.0bn, while its exports of plastic materials fell by 19% to Y42.2bn, the ministry said.

Japan has been hampered by the high import costs of fossil fuels following the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011 and a weaker yen, according to media reports.

The Bank of Japan in a report on 18 February said that it expects the country’s economy to “level off more or less for the time being, and thereafter, it will return to a moderate recovery path as domestic demand remains resilient”.

“Exports are expected to stop decreasing and start picking up as overseas economies gradually emerge from the deceleration phase,” it added.

By: Tomomi Yokomura
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