TOKYO: Japan’s trade deficit fell 40 percent in August from a year earlier due to a slump in the cost of oil imports, finance ministry data showed on Thursday, but exports sputtered due to waning appetite in China.
The deficit fell to 569.7 billion yen ($4.73 billion) compared to 953.2 billion yen in August 2014, ministry data showed. That beat the 540.0 billion yen predicted by survey of analysts of Bloomberg News.
The overall value of exports rose 3.1 percent compared to a year earlier to 5.88 billion yen, due to a rise in “automobiles and ships”, finance ministry said in a statement.
But they slowed from the previous month and shipments to major trade partner China fell 4.6 percent from a year earlier, prompting Capital Economics to warn exports could hinder Japan’s economic growth.
“Today’s trade data suggest that net exports continued to depress GDP growth this quarter,” the research house said.
The value of imports also dropped, slipping 3.1 percent to 6.45 billion yen, which the finance ministry said was due to a slowdown in purchases of crude oil and liquefied natural gas.
Capital Economics forecast the fall would continue this month.
“The slump in crude oil prices in recent months and the renewed strengthening of the yen point to a further drop in petroleum imports in September,” the research house said.