Japan: February's softer drop in exports prompts trade balance to record largest surplus in over four years
March 17, 2016
In February, nominal exports valued in yen declined 4.0% over the same month last year, which followed the 12.9% decrease recorded in January. The fall exceeded the 3.0% drop that market analysts had expected. Soft global demand, particularly from Asia, continues to weight on Japan’s exports.
Imports contracted 14.2% annually in February. The print was better than both the 17.8% drop tallied in January and the 15.2% decrease that market analysts had expected. Imports continued to decline at double-digit rates due to the fall in energy prices.
As a result, the trade balance recorded a JPY 243 billion surplus (USD 2.2 billion) in February. The reading contrasted the JPY 426 billion shortfall tallied in the same month of the previous year and marked the largest surplus since September 2011. In the 12 months up to February, the trade deficit was JPY 1.6 trillion, which was down from the JPY 2.3 trillion shortfall that was recorded in the previous month and represented the smallest deficit since October 2011.