Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Japan faces trade deficit

Japanese car manufacturer Toyota's domestic production has so far been about 8,000 vehicles a day in April, half the level of a year earlier. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO - JAPAN reported on Wednesday its first annual trade deficit in 28 years.

The deficit for the fiscal year that ended in March was 725.3 billion yen (S$11 billion), the Finance Ministry said. Total exports fell by 16.4 per cent, while imports dipped 4.1 per cent, the ministry said.

Japan posted a slight trade surplus in March despite a sharp plunge in exports from the same period a year earlier. The country's trade surplus for the month was 11 billion yen, down from 109.6 billion yen last year.

The result marked a second straight month of surplus, but was worse than the surplus of 82.1 billion yen last month.

Before February, Japan had four straight months in the red, posting a deficit of 952.6 billion yen in January, the biggest negative trade balance since the government began compiling data in 1979.

Japan's exports to the rest of the world in March declined 45.6 per cent to 4.18 trillion yen as shipments of cars and car parts to the US and Europe continued to fall, and those of semiconductor components to Asia also declined.

However, imports fell by a smaller amount, declining 36.7 per cent to 4.17 trillion yen, with shipments in food, steel and oil sectors falling.

Trade with the US plunged 76.7 per cent from a year earlier.

Trade balance with Asia also fell 65.5 per cent, except for a nearly threefold increase with China and 13.4 per cent rise with India. -- AP

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