Current account surplus expands 15.4%

IThe nation’s current account surplus for February increased 15.4 percent from the same period last year to 865.2 billion yen, logging the second straight month of growth, provisional figures released April 7 showed.

The surplus in the trade account also expanded for the first time in 27 months, increasing 2.9 percent to 878 billion yen. Meanwhile, the surplus in goods and services trade fell 4.8 percent to 363.3 billion yen, the smallest surplus for February since 1985.

Finance Ministry officials said that in general, while growth in imports continues to exceed that of exports and the nation’s services deficit is still on a rising trend, the pace in the reduction of the current account surplus is slowing. Exports from Japan increased 9.9 percent to 3.896 trillion yen, recording the 19th consecutive month of increase. Imports for the month rose 12.2 percent to 3.018 trillion yen, continuing to grow for the 31st month.

Auto exports in February grew 15.1 percent by value and 10.1 percent by volume. Office equipment exports increased by 24.1 percent. For imports, oil, lumber and natural gas rose 38.5 percent, 51.3 percent and 38.2 percent, respectively.

Ministry officials said the depreciation of the yen against the dollar during the month was a factor that boosted exports, but added that structural factors such as greater overseas production will prevent the surplus from soaring to high levels. “Imports are still rising at a faster pace than exports, and exporters such as automakers have indicated they do not intend to change their current overseas production investment plans,” one official said.