Japan trade balance returns to surplus in June

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TOKYO: Japan logged a trade surplus of nearly $4 billion in June, rebounding from a deficit the previous month, but its politically sensitive surplus with the United States slipped, government data showed Thursday.

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The world’s third-largest economy logged a surplus of 439.9 billion yen ($ 3.9 billion), down 35.9 percent from the same month a year earlier, according to data from the finance ministry.

The result came in below market expectations of a 488 billion yen surplus.

Japan’s surplus with the US fell 4.9 percent to 587.4 billion yen as growth in imports of oil and coal overwhelmed exports of vehicles and other manufactured goods.

Japan’s trade flows with the US, over which the two countries battled for decades into the 1990s, became less of hot button issue under recent presidential administrations.

But new US President Donald Trump has vowed to root out “unfair” trade practices around the world, targeting other countries, including Japan, and their companies.

Overall exports in June rose 9.7 percent from a year earlier to 6.61 trillion yen thanks to growth in chip-manufacturing devices and steel products, marking the seventh consecutive monthly rise.

Imports expanded 15.5 percent to 6.17 trillion yen, boosted by imports of liquefied natural gas and coal and electronic devices from Asian countries, logging the sixth straight monthly increase.

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