Japan: Trade balance in March records first surplus since 2012
April 22, 2015
In March, nominal exports valued in yen expanded 8.5% over the same month last year, which represented an acceleration over the 2.5% increase recorded in February. The print was in line with market expectations.
Imports contracted sharply in March, falling at the fastest pace since November 2009. Imports declined 14.5% annually in March, which was below the 3.6% drop tallied in February. The print exceeded the 12.6% decrease that market analysts had expected. Imports continue to fall as the decline in energy prices is cutting costs.
As a result of the large drop in imports and the expansion in exports, the trade balance swung to a USD 229 billion surplus (USD 1.9 billion) in March from a JPY 1.5 trillion deficit in the same month last year. Moreover, the print marked the first trade surplus since June 2012 and overshot the JPY 44.6 billion surplus that economists had expected. In the 12 months up to March, the trade deficit was JPY 9.1 trillion, which was down from the JPY 10.8 trillion shortfall that was recorded in the previous month and represented the smallest deficit since June 2013.