Japan registers first trade surplus in six years

Tokyo, Jan 25 (IANS) Japan in 2016 recorded a trade surplus for the first time in six years, thanks to the low price of oil, according to figures released by the Japanese Finance Ministry on Wednesday.

The data released shows a trade surplus of 4.07 trillion yen ($33.329 billion) for the world’s third-largest economy, up from a 2.79 trillion yen deficit the previous year, EFE news reported.

Japanese exports fell by seven per cent to 70.03 trillion yen in 2016, according to data released by the Ministry of Finance, while imports fell by 16 per cent to 65.96 trillion yen.

The ministry said exports to the US fell 7.1 per cent to 14.14 trillion yen on a custom-cleared basis, while imports were down 9.3 per cent to 7.31 trillion yen.

China-bound exports retreated to 12.36 trillion yen, down 6.5 per cent, in the reporting period, while imports fell 12.4 per cent to 17.02 trillion yen, Xinhua news agency reported.

Exports to the European Union were relatively flat at 7.98 trillion yen and imports dropped to 8.14 trillion yen, a retreat of 5.7 per cent, in the reporting year, said the ministry.

Although down from figures posted for 2015, hydrocarbons represented a fifth of overall imports last year, with a value of 12.04 billion yen.

Since the decommissioning of nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, the import of fuels to generate electricity in thermal power plants has weighed significantly on the Japanese trade balance.

However, lower international oil prices have contributed to reduce this burden, and have been one of the main factors in Japan regaining a trade surplus, despite its dependence on foreign energy.

–IANS

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