Tokyo: Japan recorded the biggest-ever trade deficit of ¥952.6 billion in January, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday, signaling that the global economic recession has increasingly hurt the country’s exports.
The country logged a deficit for the fourth straight month, the longest since the 14-month period marked between July 1979 and August 1980, when Japan suffered from soaring oil prices following the second oil shock. The red ink figure in the reporting month was the biggest since comparable data became available in 1979.
Exports declined 45.7% from a year earlier to ¥3,482.6 billion, the biggest rate of fall since the ministry began publicizing year-on-year changes in 1980, the ministry said in a preliminary report.
Exports of vehicles, auto parts and semiconductors shrank remarkably. Companies cutting production amid the slowing economy, as well as business halts during the New Year holidays, contributed to the weak results.
Imports slid 31.7% to ¥4,435.2 billion as crude oil prices tumbled and imports of electronic devices decreased.
Crude oil imports were down 64.2% as average oil prices fell 52.6% to $43.2 per barrel.
Akira Maekawa, senior economist at UBS Securities Japan Ltd., said Japanese trade figures for the month of January tend to be weak, given such special factors as business closures during the New Year holidays.
“Still, the latest result is weak,” Maekawa said, adding that the US economic outlook is a key to whether Japan’s trade balance could improve.