Japan’s trade surplus in February surged 51.7 percent from a year earlier, as its surpluses with China and other Asian economies hit record levels, the Finance Ministry said Thursday.
The nation’s robust trade surplus was backed by China’s continuing economic growth, along with Japanese firms’ low-cost production bases in Asia, featuring high-tech components from Japan.
The merchandise trade surplus — exports minus imports — came to 1.41 trillion yen, marking an eighth consecutive month of rise, the ministry said.
Significantly, Japan’s trade surplus with Asia grew 41.3 percent to a record high 790.3 billion yen, marking an eighth consecutive month of increase.
This was mainly due to exports of semiconductors and other components used in digital gadgets and mobile telephones.
“Exports remained on an uptrend,” said Tatsushi Shikano, senior economist at UFJ Tsubasa Securities Co.
“Particularly, the need for better infrastructure in China propped up exports of construction-related products. The demand for home appliances was also rising in urban areas of China.”
Exports were also bolstered by an appetite for digital gadget components at Japanese manufacturing factories in China and other parts of Asia. The components are used in products exported to the United States and Europe, Shikano said.
He expects Japan’s exports to continue on an upbeat trend at least until summer.
The trade balance with China, an increasingly important trade partner, posted a surplus for the first time since March 1994. The surplus stood at 13.71 billion yen, while exports came in at 590.23 billion yen and imports at 576.53 billion yen, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Japan’s trade surplus with the U.S. climbed 6.9 percent to 604 billion yen, marking a second consecutive monthly rise.
Imports declined more deeply than exports, as the ban on U.S. beef resulted in a sharp reduction of meat imported from the country.
Japan has kept the ban in place since late December, when the first and only case of mad cow disease in the U.S. came to light.
Exports to the U.S. have declined for 14 straight months, with Japanese automakers assembling more products at their plants in the U.S. amid the dollar’s fall against the yen. The dollar averaged 106.03 yen in February, against 119.26 yen in the same month last year.