Kuwait's trade surplus with Japan narrowed 36.8 percent in May to JPY 68.1 billion (USD 666 million) from a year earlier, shrinking for the second month in a row as exports plunged, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday.
But Kuwait maintained black ink with Japan for the 76th consecutive month, the ministry said in a preliminary report. Kuwaiti overall exports to Japan slid 34.1 percent year-on-year to JPY 80.4 billion (USD 786 million) for the second consecutive monthly decline, and imports from Japan also dropped 14.1 percent to JPY 12.3 billion (USD 120 million), down for the first time in 13 months.
Middle East's trade surplus with Japan also declined 14.5 percent to JPY 887.3 billion (USD 8.7 billion) last month, with Japan-bound exports from the region falling 10.5 percent from a year earlier. Crude oil, refined products, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other natural resources, which accounted for 97.0 percent of the region's total exports to Japan, fell 11.2 percent. But the region's overall imports from Japan grew 10.9 percent, thanks to robust shipments of automobile, machinery, and steel.
Japan's global deficit narrowed in May the second straight month, as imports declined after the sales tax increase in April. The world's third-biggest economy posted a trade deficit of JPY 909.0 billion (USD 8.9 billion), down 8.3 percent on the year. But it marked the 23rd straight month of shortfall for the longest losing streak since comparable data became available in January 1979. Overall exports decreased 2.7 percent to JPY 5.608 trillion (USD 54.8 billion), the first decline in 15 months, chiefly due to sluggish shipments of marine vessels and automobiles. Imports fell 3.6 percent to JPY 6.517 trillion (USD 63.7 billion), the first fall in 19 months as demand for crude oil and coal plummeted. Personal spending and industrial output also slowed following the April 1 sales tax hike to 8 percent from 5 percent. Exports to China, Japan's biggest trading partner, edged up 0.4 percent, and imports from the country fell 2.7 percent, posting a deficit with China for the 27th straight month.
Japan's currency weakened against the US dollar by 2.9 percent 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. The trade data are measured on a customs-cleared basis before adjustment for seasonal factors