A record trade deficit added to Japan’s headaches today following recent signs of slowing growth for the world’s third biggest economy.
A 25 per cent jump in imports pushed the trade gap to a record 2.8 trillion yen (£16.5 billion) as a weaker currency and premier Shinzo Abe’s economic reforms failed to boost exports but imports of oil and gas still surged in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, which closed Japan’s nuclear power plants. Exports grew by a much smaller 9.5 per cent year on year, the figures showed.
The previous record monthly deficit was 1.63 trillion yen, in January 2013. The nation’s deficit with China also surged, to a record 1.04 trillion yen. The poor news comes after figures earlier this week showed Japan’s growth slowing to 0.3 per cent in the final three months of last year.
Societe Generale economist Wei Yao said the weaker-than-expected export growth was due to a temporary US slowdown “because of the extraordinarily cold weather there” and exports to Asia fell due to the Chinese New Year holiday.”