News Column

Japan posts record-low current account surplus in fiscal 2013

May 12, 2014

TOKYO, May 12 (KUNA) -- Japan posted the smallest current account surplus on record in fiscal 2013 due to increasing energy imports and huge trade deficit on the weak yen, the Finance Ministry said Monday.

The current account surplus for the fiscal year through March 31 was JPY 789.9 billion (USD 7.7 billion), down 81.3 percent from the previous year, according to a preliminary report released by the ministry. That was the smallest surplus on record since comparable data became available in 1985 and the figure shrank for the third straight year.

The current account balance is the broadest measure of Japan's trade with other countries, including goods, services, tourism, and returns on foreign investment. The trade deficit almost doubled from the previous year to JPY 10.86 trillion (USD 106.5 billion) in fiscal 2013. Exports rose 12.2 percent from the previous year to 69.80 trillion (USD 684.5 billion) on the back of the yen's depreciation.

Imports meanwhile jumped 19.6 percent to JPY 80.67 trillion (USD 791.1 billion) on heavy dependence on purchases of crude oil and liquefied natural gas to make up for shutdowns of nuclear reactors in the aftermath of the radiation crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant caused by the March 2011 quake-tsunami disaster.

The yen's depreciation supports exports by making Japanese products more competitive overseas and increase the value of repatriated overseas earning, but it also pushes up import bills. Japan's currency weakened against the US dollar by 20.8 percent on the year, according to the ministry.

The income surplus, which reflects the value of interest and dividends earned overseas, expanded 14.0 percent to a record high of JPY 16.66 trillion (USD 163.4 billion). The services sector, including overseas travel and cargo shipping, registered a deficit of JPY 3.58 trillion (USD 35.1 billion).

In March alone, Japan posted a current account deficit of JPY 116.4 billion (USD 1.1 billion), down 90.9 percent from a year earlier.(end) mk.wsa

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Source: Kuwait News Agency

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