Japan’s trade surplus expanded in July for the first time in two months, up 7.3 percent from a year earlier to 799.2 billion yen, helped by record-high exports to China, the Finance Ministry said Monday.
Exports grew 5.6 percent to 4.64 trillion yen, picking up after a 0.044 percent drop in June, which was the first decline in 15 months. The growth in exports outpaced that of imports, which rose 5.3 percent to 3.85 trillion yen for the 11th straight monthly increase.
Exports to China marked the largest amount in value terms on a monthly basis, at 588 billion yen, renewing the previous record of 566.2 billion yen in March.
Topping the list of items exported to China were parts for mobile phones and video games, reflecting the growing trend by Japanese companies to send parts to the country to assemble products there.
Exports to Asia as a whole marked the second-largest figure in value terms on a monthly basis, rising 12.7 percent to 2.17 trillion yen. That was slightly lower than the record 2.2 trillion yen marked in March.
Imports from other parts of Asia were also the second-largest, rising 11.6 percent to 1.71 trillion yen. The monthly record is 1.72 trillion yen, marked last October.
The trade surplus with Asia stood at 464.7 billion yen, up 16.7 percent for the first increase in two months.
The surplus with the 15-member European Union also rose in July, expanding 65 percent to 174.0 billion yen.
Exports to the EU grew 10 percent to 679.5 billion yen, led by brisk demand for automobiles. Imports dropped for the first time in 13 months, falling 1.3 percent to 505.5 billion yen.
The trade surplus with the United States slipped for the seventh consecutive month, falling 6.2 percent to 570.1 billion yen.
Exports were down 7.3 percent to 1.16 trillion yen, as demand for Japanese cars dropped in the country. Imports decreased 8.4 percent to 588.9 billion yen.
Among items that stood out in overall import growth were meat products. The increase was possibly because companies stocked up before the government imposed emergency tariffs on beef and pork imports from Aug. 1.
Imports of meat from the U.S. in the reporting month rose 37.9 percent, while that from the EU increased 16 percent.