Japanese exports to the United States surged 23.9 percent in March from a year earlier, to $12.7 billion, on strong auto and auto parts business, according to preliminary figures released by the Finance Ministry on Thursday. It was the fifth consecutive monthly rise. Japanese imports from also rose, but at a much slower pace of 8.4 percent, totaling $6.6 billion. It was the third successive monthly growth on a year-on-year basis.
As a result, Japan’s trade surplus with the U.S. expanded for the second consecutive month, widening 47 percent to $6.0 billion. The U.S. is now Japan’s second-largest trading partner after China.
The news for Japan wasn’t as good in trade with the rest of the world. The country incurred an overall trade deficit of $1.0 billion for the month as imports grew at a much faster pace than exports.
The deficit extended a bit of a roller-coaster ride for Japanese trade. The country had a $363 million surplus in February, following a record $18.3 billion deficit in January.
Japan’s overall exports rose for the first time in six months in March on a year-on-year basis, increasing 5.9 percent to $76.6 billion. The export growth was led by autos, auto parts, and construction and mining machinery, which surged 44.7, 24.2 and 34.6 percent, respectively, in terms of value.
Japan’s overall imports rose for the 27th consecutive month on a year-over-year basis, increasing 10.5 percent to $77.6 billion. The import growth was fueled by crude oil, liquefied natural gas and aircraft, which soared 22.8, 58.7 and 558.8 percent, respectively, in terms of value.
In stark contrast with brisk U.S.-bound shipments, Japan’s exports to China and the European Union fell for the sixth consecutive month in March, dropping 5.9 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively.
Japan is now the world’s third-largest economy after the U.S. and China and is heavily dependent on exports for growth. In all of fiscal 2011, which ended on March 31, Japan suffered a record trade deficit of $54.4 billion. Compared with the previous fiscal year, overall exports were down 3.7 percent at $806.0 billion while overall imports were up 11.6 percent at $860.4 billion.
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