Japan returns to trade deficit in May

By AFP   June 20, 2016 | 09:16 am GMT+7

Japan fell into a trade deficit in May, the first since January, as export declines accelerated while imports dropped, the finance ministry said Monday.

Japanese exports fell for all major regions, including the nation's biggest trading partner China as concerns linger over a slowdown in the largest Asian economy as well as other emerging markets.

The yen's renewed strength was also putting pressure on exports, dealing a fresh blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to boost the fragile economy ahead of a July election.

Japan logged a deficit of 40.72 billion yen ($389 million), compared with a trade surplus of 823.18 billion yen in April, as exports of steel and semiconductors declined, the ministry said.

However, it was smaller than the deficit of 215.35 billion yen seen in May 2015.

For the latest month, exports fell 11.3 percent, marking the eighth straight monthly decline.

The value of steel shipments dropped 24.1 percent, while electronic parts such as semiconductors shrank 20.0 percent.

Imports, meanwhile, also fell 13.8 percent, the 17th straight monthly drop, largely due to sharp declines in energy prices, such as crude oil and liquefied natural gas.

China-bound exports fell 14.9 percent, led by optical equipment such as lenses, the ministry said.

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