Business / Economy

Japan's August current account surplus up 18%

Kyodo

Japan’s current account surplus increased 18.3 percent in August from a year earlier as imports declined faster than exports amid the continued effects of the U.S.-China trade conflict, government data showed Tuesday.

The surplus in the current account — one of the widest gauges of international trade — stood at ¥2.16 trillion, marking the 62nd straight month of black ink, the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report.

Among key components, the goods trade surplus came to ¥50.9 billion, compared with a deficit of ¥255.6 billion in the same month last year.

Exports dropped 8.6 percent to ¥6.08 trillion due to sluggish demand in China for semiconductor manufacturing equipment and auto parts, the ministry said. Imports tumbled 12.7 percent to ¥6.03 trillion on falling crude oil and other commodity imports.

Trade between Japan and South Korea has been weakening due to worsening relations over wartime history and trade policy. But its impact was seen limited in August, a ministry official said.

Primary income balance, which reflects returns on foreign investments, recorded a surplus of ¥2.27 trillion, down 0.7 percent but still a main driver of Japan’s long-running current account surplus.

Service trade, which included cargo shipping and passenger transportation, registered a surplus of ¥23.3 billion, up 6.7 percent.

A surplus in the travel balance of ¥151.8 billion was an August record. The number of visitors to Japan dropped but their average spending increased, the ministry said.

Amid the deteriorating bilateral ties, the number of South Korean travelers nearly halved from a year earlier to 309,000.