2018 current account surplus falls for 1st time in 4 years

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan’s current account surplus declined in 2018 for the first time in four years, as higher crude oil prices helped reduce the surplus in goods trade, government data showed on Friday.

The surplus in the current account, the broadest measure of the country’s earnings from foreign trade and investment, shrank 13.0 percent from 2017 to ¥19,093.2 billion, the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report.

Japan logged a goods trade surplus of ¥1,187.7 billion, down 76.0 percent.

Imports rose 10.6 percent to ¥80,019.3 billion, reflecting a surge in crude oil prices. Exports grew 5.1 percent to a record ¥81,207 billion.

“Exports and imports are both brisk, and there’ve so far been no evident impacts” of the U.S.-China trade row, a ministry official said.

The surplus in the primary income account, which covers cross-border dividend and interest payments, went up 4.9 percent to ¥20,810.2 billion, thanks to an increase in companies’ dividend receipts from overseas subsidiaries. The surplus was the second highest on record after the 2015 peak of ¥21,303.2 billion.

The deficit in services trade, including freight transportation and travel, totaled ¥898.6 billion. The surplus in the travel account grew to a record high of ¥2,313.9 billion on the back of an increase in the number of foreign tourists to Japan.

In December, Japan’s current account surplus fell 43.1 percent from a year before to ¥452.8 billion.Speech

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