Kuwait's trade surplus with Japan narrowed for the first time in two months in November, plunging 42.0 percent to JPY 47.6 billion (USD 408 million) from a year earlier, as exports sharply decreased, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday.
But Kuwait maintained black ink with Japan for the 82nd consecutive month, the ministry said in a preliminary report. Kuwaiti overall exports to Japan fell 33.7 percent year-on-year to JPY 66.5 billion (USD 570 million) for the first decline in two months, while imports from Japan grew 3.8 percent to JPY 18.9 billion (USD 162 million), up for the fifth month.
Middle East's trade surplus with Japan was also down 25.7 percent to JPY 862.2 billion (USD 7.4 billion) last month, as Japan-bound exports from the region fell 18.1 percent from a year earlier. Crude oil, refined products, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other natural resources, which accounted for 96.8 percent of the region's total exports to Japan, dropped 18.8 percent. The region's overall imports from Japan jumped 17.5 percent, thanks to robust shipments of automobile, steel, machinery and electric equipment.
The world's third-biggest economy registered a global deficit of JPY 891.9 billion (USD 7.6 billion) in November, down 31.5 percent on the year, the ministry said. It marked the 29th straight month of shortfall, the longest losing streak since comparable data became available in January 1979.
Overall exports climbed 4.9 percent to JPY 6.189 trillion (USD 53.0 billion), thanks to strong demand for semiconductors, optical equipment and machinery on the back of the weak yen.
Imports declined 1.7 percent to JPY 7.081 trillion (USD 60.6 billion), chiefly due to a 21.6 percent plunge in crude oil imports. Exports to China, Japan's biggest trading partner, edged up 0.9 percent, and imports from the country expanded 3.9 percent, posting a deficit with China for the 33rd straight month.
Japan's currency weakened against the US dollar by 13.2 percent from the year before, according to the ministry.
The yen's depreciation supports exports by making Japanese products more competitive overseas and increase the value of repatriated overseas earning, but it also inflates import prices. However, lower crude oil prices offset the effect of the weaker yen last month.
The trade data are measured on a customs-cleared basis before adjustment for seasonal factors.