Japan: Soaring imports push trade deficit to a record high in January
February 20, 2014
In January, nominal yen exports rose 9.5% over the same month last year, which was below the 15.3% increase recorded in December and marked the slowest acceleration in seven months. The expansion undershot the 12.7% increase that market analysts had expected.
Imports surged 25.0% in annual terms in January, following the strong 24.7% increase recorded in December and marking the highest rate in three months. The expansion was above the 22.7% increase that market analysts had expected. Imports continue on strong footing due to a weak yen and higher fuel purchases resulting from the continued shutdown of nuclear plants after the Tohoku earthquake of March 2011.
The trade balance registered a JPY 2.8 trillion deficit (USD 27.3 billion) in January, which exceeded both the JPY 1.3 trillion shortfall tallied in the previous month and the JPY 1.6 trillion deficit recorded in the same month of the previous year. This marks the 19th consecutive month of trade deficit and the largest shortfall on record. Accordingly, the trailing 12-month sum of the trade deficit widened from JPY 11.5 trillion in December to JPY 12.6 trillion in January, marking yet another record high.
In the full year 2013, the trade deficit widened from the JPY 6.9 trillion recorded in 2012 to JPY 11.5 trillion, which is the largest trade shortfall on record.