Japan: Japan posts largest annual trade deficit on record
January 24, 2013
In December, exports declined for a seventh consecutive month, falling 5.8% over the same month the year before. In addition, the drop exceeded market expectations of a 4.2% decline and marked a deterioration over the 4.1% contraction tallied in November. In the full year 2012, exports fell 2.7%, matching the 2011 result.
Meanwhile, imports increased 1.9% in annual terms in December. The print followed the revised 0.9% rise tallied in November (previously reported: +0.8% year-on-year) and came in slightly above market expectations that had shipments expanding 1.7%. As a result of the monthly reading, in 2012, imports rose 3.8% in annual terms (2011: +12.1% yoy).
The trade balance registered a deficit of JPY 642 billion (USD 7.2 billion) in December, which was larger than the JPY 208 billion shortfall observed in the same month the year before. Accordingly, in 2012, Japan recorded a deficit of JPY 6.9 trillion (USD 78 billion), which nearly tripled the JPY 2.6 trillion deficit registered in 2011 and marked the largest deficit on record. The soaring energy bill, a strong yen as well as by rising tensions with China dragged down the trade balance.