Current account surplus finally rises — 362.3%

Japan’s current account surplus for January surged 362.3 percent from a year earlier to 150.7 billion yen, posting the first rise in 17 months, according to provisional figures released Mar. 6.

But Finance Ministry officials attributed the growth to a temporary reduction in the nation’s deficit in service trade, most notably due to a rise in profits through commodities dealing. The income balance, which rose 26 percent due to a jump in reinvestment income, also helped push up the current account figure, the officials said.

“Because imports continue to rise at a higher pace than exports and the service deficit in general remains on an upward trend, we believe the current account surplus will stay on a downward course, although the pace at which it falls may slacken,” one official said. The current account includes the balance of goods and services trading, income transactions and current transfers.

A deficit of 284.5 billion yen was logged for the trade in goods and services balance, the third largest January deficit since current calculation methods were introduced in 1985. The surplus in trade balance fell 15.5 percent in year-on-year terms to 229.3 billion yen, marking the 26th straight month of decline.

Exports rose 17.3 percent to 3.472 trillion yen, but imports grew faster, posting an increase of 20.6 percent to 3.243 trillion yen. Auto exports surged 50.3 percent during the month in value terms and 33.3 percent in volume terms.