Japan posted its first trade surplus in six years in 2016 thanks to a rebound in exports late in the year and persisting low oil prices, though uncertainties over US policy and global growth are overshadowing the recovery.
The 4.1 trillion yen ($35.8 billion) surplus in 2016 compared with a 2.8 trillion yen deficit in 2015, the government reported. Exports fell 7.4 percent from a year earlier to 70.04 trillion yen ($617 billion) while imports dropped 16 percent to 66 trillion yen ($581 billion), the report showed. But December’s data showed a strong rebound in exports to China and some other Asian countries, suggestion a recent uptick in growth in Asia’s biggest economy is filtering through supply chains across the region. A weakening in the Japanese yen against the US dollar since Donald Trump was elected president also increased the value of exports in yen terms. A dollar now buys about 114 yen, up from about 101 yen at the time of the Nov. 8 election.
In the full year, Japan’s trade surplus with the US fell nearly 5 percent, to 6.8 trillion yen ($59 billion). Exports fell 7.1 percent from the year before to 14.1 trillion yen ($124.6 billion) and imports dropped 7.3 percent to 7.3 trillion yen ($64.4 billion), the report said.
Japan ran a 4.6 trillion yen ($41 billion) deficit with China, its largest trading partner, down by a quarter from a year earlier. US President Donald Trump’s decision to drop out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, and his comments on imposing “border taxes” on some imports has added to uncertainties over US trade policy.