Japan: Trade deficit narrows as tax hike dampens import growth in April
May 21, 2014
In April, nominal yen exports rose 5.1% over the same month last year, which represented an acceleration over the 1.8% increase recorded in March. The expansion slightly overshot the 4.8% increase that market analysts had expected.
Imports expanded 3.4% in annual terms in April, which was just a fraction of the 18.1% increase tallied in the previous month. The print, which came in above the 0.8% increase that market analysts had expected, represented the weakest growth rate since December 2012. Imports cooled down following the sales-tax increase that took effect on 1 April, which dampened consumer demand for overseas products. An environmental tax on energy also played a role in the moderation observed in imports.
The trade balance registered a JPY 809 billion deficit (USD 8.0 billion) in April, which marked an improvement over the JPY 1.5 trillion shortfall tallied in the previous month and the JPY 877 billion deficit recorded in the same month last year. The trailing 12-month sum of the trade deficit remained stable at the previous month’s JPY 13.7 trillion in April, marking yet another record high.