Japan marks first trade deficit since 2001

Feb. 23, 2006 at 6:09 AM
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TOKYO, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Japan posted its first monthly trade deficit in five years in January and the largest deficit in 23 years under the influence of high oil prices.

A preliminary report released by Japan's Finance Ministry said the trade balance was a customs-cleared trade deficit of $2.95 billion, the biggest since the $3.46 billion logged in January 1983, compared to a surplus of $1.63 billion previous year, the Kyodo News reported Thursday.

Imports rose 27.0 percent to $45.29 billion, up for the 23rd straight month, while exports grew 13.5 percent to 42.34 billion, up for 26 months in a row.

Imports of crude oil jumped 67.2 percent, spurred by a 46.4 percent surge in crude oil prices to $56.2 per barrel for January on a customs-cleared basis.

Japan's import deficit with China was $4.7 billion, up 48.0 percent from a year earlier and marking an all-time high.

The trade surplus with the United States rose 22.3 percent to $4.84 billion, marking the 12th straight month of increase.

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