Kuwait’s trade surplus with Japan sharply widened 63.2 percent in March to JPY 121.2 billion (USD 1.2 billion) from a year earlier, expanding for the first time in two months, as exports jumped, the Finance Ministry said on Monday.
Kuwait maintained black ink with Japan for the 74th consecutive month, the ministry said in a preliminary report.
Kuwaiti overall exports to Japan swelled 49.9 percent to JPY 136.2 billion (USD 1.3 billion) for the first increase in two months, and imports from Japan dropped 9.6 percent year-on-year to JPY 15.0 billion (USD 146 million), down for the first time in 11 months.
Middle East’s trade surplus with Japan also widened 22.5 percent to JPY 1.334 trillion (USD 13.0 billion) last month, with Japan-bound exports from the region rising 22.0 percent from a year earlier.
Crude oil, refined products, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other natural resources, which accounted for 97.4 percent of the region’s total exports to Japan, soared 21.3 percent on the year.
The region’s overall imports from Japan grew 19.6 percent, mainly led by robust shipments of automobile, steel and machinery.
The world’s third-biggest economy hit a global deficit of JPY 1.446 trillion (USD 14.1 billion) in March as soaring energy costs offset export values, marking the 21st straight month of shortfall. It marked the biggest-ever trade deficit for the month of March since comparable data became available in January 1979.
Overall exports edged up 1.8 percent to JPY 6.383 trillion (USD 62.2 billion), up for the 13th month, led by shipments of vehicles, mineral fuels and steel. But imports gained 18.1 percent to JPY 7.829 trillion (USD 76.3 billion), up for the 17th straight month, as the weaker yen continued to push up fossil fuel imports costs, which comprise more than one third of all imports.
Demand for fossil fuel-based power generation have risen following the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, which was triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami. The last-minute demand for durable goods in the domestic market before the April 1 tax hike also boosted import bills. Exports to China, Japan’s biggest trading partner, grew 4.3 percent, and imports from the country surged 27.0 percent. Japan’s currency weakened against the US dollar by 8.7 percent the year before, according to the ministry. The yen’s depreciation supports exports by making Japanese products more competitive overseas and increase the value of repatriated overseas earning, but it also inflates import prices.
Japan also posted a record trade deficit for fiscal 2013, due to a surge in energy imports.
The trade data are measured on a customs-cleared basis before adjustment for seasonal factors.
KUNA Kuwait News agency