Japan posts shrinking trade deficit in 2015 as imports slump

Tokyo, Jan 25 (IANS) Japan posted a trade deficit in 2015 for the fifth successive year, although the deficit shrank by 77.9 percent to 2.83 trillion yen ($23.9 billion), as import costs dropped owing to the global oil glut and slump in prices, government data showed on Monday.

According to a preliminary report from the finance ministry, exports climbed 3.5 percent to 75.63 trillion yen from a year earlier, on robust deliveries of vehicles to the US, while imports retreated 8.7 percent to 78.46 trillion yen, Xinhua cited the latest annual figures as showing.

The ministry noted that imports of crude oil dropped 41 percent and those of liquefied natural gas (LNG) retreated 29.5 percent, with the figures highly significant as costs for shipping in fossil fuels from overseas largely impact the trade balance, more so in the wake of Japan’s nuclear power plants being taken offline after the earthquake-triggered tsunami disaster in 2011.

Exports to the US expanded 11.5 percent in the recording year to 15.22 trillion yen, while imports grew 6.8 percent to 8.05 trillion yen, the ministry said.

Exports to Europe, meanwhile, also increased, expanding 5.3 percent to 7.99 trillion yen and imports were up 5.6 percent to 8.62 trillion yen.

China-bound exports declined, however, in the year, slipping 1.1 percent to 13.23 trillion yen, but imports from Asia’s largest economy increased 1.3 percent to 19.42 trillion yen, the ministry said.

In December, the trade surplus stood at 140.2 billion yen ($1.18 billion), with the ministry saying that exports dropped eight percent from a year earlier to 6.34 trillion yen, while imports fell 18.0 percent to 6.20 trillion yen, on a customs-cleared basis.

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