Japan Posts Largest Trade Surplus in Over a Year


Japan's trade surplus widened 32.1 percent to JPY 797.3 billion in March 2018 from JPY 603.5 billion in the same month a year earlier and far above market expectations of a JPY 498 billion surplus. It was the largest trade surplus since February last year.

Exports increased by 2.1 percent year-on-year to JPY 7,382 billion in March, following a 1.8 percent rise in the previous month and missing market expectations of 4.7 percent growth. Sales of machinery went up 10.2 percent, namely power generating machine (10.8 percent) and semicon machinery (16.8 percent). Also, exports rose for electrical machinery (3.2 percent), of which semiconductors (4.3 percent); chemicals (8.2 percent); and manufactured goods (4.6 percent). In contrast, sales fell for transport equipment (-1.7 percent), namely bus & truck (-5.5 percent), ships (-29.6 percent), and aircraft (-18.7 percent); and others (-9.3 percent), of which scientific, optical instruments (-2.4 percent).

Exports rose to Asia (4.5 percent), mainly to China (10.8 percent), Taiwan (0.7 percent), Thailand (13.8 percent); the US (0.2 percent); the EU (0.3 percent), mainly Germany (9.6 percent) and the Netherlands (5.8 percent); and the Middle East (9.3 percent). By contrast, exports fell to Hong Kong (-15.5 percent), South Korea (-3.2 percent), Singapore (-0.9 percent) and the UK (-29.2 percent). 

Imports unexpectedly declined by 0.6 percent to JPY 6,585 billion in March, compared to a 16.6 percent surge in the preceding month and also missing market consensus of a 5.4 percent gain. It was the first import contraction since December 2016, as purchases fell for: electrical machinery (-6.4 percent), of which semiconductors (-3.7 percent) and telephony, telegraphy (-5.8 percent); and others (-13.4 percent), namely clothing and accessories (-20.1 percent). Also, inbound shipments of manufactured goods declined 4.7 percent, due to iron & steel products (-4.1 percent) and manufactures of metals (-13.5 percent); and purchases of foodstuff decreased 5.2 percent, namely fish and fish preparation (-12.6 percent) and meat and meat preperation (-4.3 percent). In contrast, imports grew for: mineral fuels (6.9 percent), namely petroleum (5.7 percent); chemicals (1.2 percent); machinery (6.6 percent), of which computers and units (9.4 percent); and transport equipment (18.3 percent), namely motor vehicles (45.8 percent).

Among major trading partners, imports fell from China (-16.8 percent) and Saudi Arabia (-10.2 percent), while increased from Taiwan (3.2 percent), South Korea (12.8 percent), the US (0.6 percent), Germany (21.2 percent) and the UAE (20.8 percent).

In the first quarter of the year, Japan posted a trade deficit of JPY 148.4 billion, compared with a JPY 316.1 billion surplus in the same period of the previous year.


Japan Posts Largest Trade Surplus in Over a Year


Ministry of Finance l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com
4/18/2018 10:18:10 AM