Current account surplus continues steady decline

Japan’s current account surplus for November fell 15.4 percent from a year earlier to 664.1 billion yen, according to preliminary statistics released Jan. 13.It was the second lowest November figure since 1985. The current account surplus has continued to drop since December 1994 with the exception of August 1995. The year-on-year decrease was 37 percent in September, but fell to 19.6 percent in October and 15.4 percent in November.Finance Ministry officials said that although the pace of decline is slowing, they expect the downward trend to continue because the surplus in the balance of trade and services would keep shrinking due to growth in imports. The nation’s trade and services surplus fell 32.8 percent to 302.4 billion yen in November, logging the 24th straight month of decline. But figures show that exports were on the rise, recording a second straight month of double-digit growth by increasing 11 percent to 3.857 trillion yen.Imports, meanwhile, also grew steadily, marking a 16 percent increase to 2.997 trillion yen. As a result, the surplus in the trade account dropped 3.4 percent to 859.8 billion yen. The export of items such as automobiles, optical instruments and office equipment grew steadily during the month, rising 27.7 percent, 23.2 percent and 14.1 percent, respectively.Auto exports also rose 16 percent in terms of volume, with a great portion of the shipments, especially recreational vehicles, going to the U.S. market, ministry officials said. On the import side, oil marked a 42.5 percent rise, largely due to a 36.7 percent increase in the price of crude oil compared to November 1995.