Japan's Trade Surplus Drops 21.1% in July

Steel exports increased 19.7%

Japan's trade surplus shrank by a bigger than expected 21.1% in July from a year earlier, hit by higher oil import costs and sluggish exports to the U.S., the government said Aug. 22. The surplus dropped to 671.22 billion yen (US$5.9 billion), the first year-on-year decline in nine months and well below the market forecast of 764 billion yen, the finance ministry said.

Exports rose 11.7% by value to 7.06 trillion yen while imports gained 16.9% to 6.39 trillion yen.

Exports of automobiles increased 12.8% to 1.17 trillion yen while shipments of steel products jumped 19.7% to 349.5 billion yen. Imports of nonferrous metal were up 59.6% at 215.8 billion yen.

Japan's surplus with the U.S. fell 4.1% to 743.8 billion yen, the first decline in two months, as exports to the world's largest economy expanded by just 1.3%.

The surplus with Asia edged down 1.9% to 663.0 billion yen, the first fall in five months, while the trade deficit with China expanded by 15.4% to 185.7 billion yen.

The surplus with the EU decreased 6.5% to 290.2 billion yen, the first decline in nearly two years, while the deficit with the oil-rich Middle East edged down 1.5% to 867.6 billion yen.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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