Arab Today, arab today japan trade deficit quadruples onyear to 14bn
Last Updated : GMT 12:41:09
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Japan trade deficit quadruples on-year to $14bn

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Arab Today, arab today Japan trade deficit quadruples on-year to $14bn

Tokyo - AFP

 Japan's trade deficit quadrupled on-year in March to $14 billion, datashowed Monday, with a weak yen compounding surging imports as consumersrushed to buy ahead of a rise in sales tax.Japan imported 1.45 trillion yen ($14 billion) worth of goods more than it exportedin the month, the finance ministry said, compared with a shortfall of 356.9 billionyen in March 2013.Exports rose 1.8 percent to 6.38 trillion yen, thanks to higher shipments of cars andprocessed fuel products.But imports grew a much faster 18.1 percent to 7.83 trillion yen due to higherimports of crude oil and liquefied natural gas as resource-poor Japan raced to plugits energy gap.For the fiscal year to March, Japan logged a record largest trade deficit of 13.75trillion yen.A 17.3 percent rise in imports from a year earlier to 84.61 trillion yen caused bypost-Fukushima energy bills overwhelmed a 10.8 percent jump in exports to 70.86trillion yen, according to data issued by the finance ministry.Junko Nishioka, chief economist at RBS Securities Japan, attributed the jump inimports to expectations for a last-minute surge in consumer spending before theApril 1 sales tax hike.Compared with before the March 2011 disaster, "a weaker yen hasn't increased export volume as much as it used to," she said."That is to say Japanese firms aren't as competitive as before," she told Dow JonesNewswires."It remains difficult for exports to recover even if overseas economies improve.There is a risk of increasing imports and ballooning trade deficits," she said.Energy import needs soared after the 2011 Fukushima crisis forced the shutdown ofJapan's nuclear reactors, which once supplied a third of the nation's power.A sharp decline in the yen, while good for exporters' profitability, has also forced upthe cost of importing.The yen was an average 8.7 percent cheaper against the dollar in March comparedwith the year-before level, according to customs data.Japanese domestic demand for gasoline and other products also picked up in Marchahead of the April 1 sales tax hike from 5.0 percent to 8.0 percent.

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