October 23, 2008

Japan Sept. Trade Surplus Down Sharply

Japan's September trade surplus fell 94.1 percent from the same month of last year to 95.1 billion yen or $974 million, the Finance Ministry said Thursday.

The September numbers, helped by growing exports to Russia and the Middle East, were, however, an improvement over August when the trade balance turned into red, the ministry said.

Total September exports rose 1.5 percent to 7,367.8 billion yen or $75.47 billion, Kyodo news reported. However, September imports grew 28.8 percent for the 12th straight month to 7,272.7 billion yen or $74.5 billion on lingering price rises on imported crude oil, liquefied natural gas and coal, the report said.

In the first half of this fiscal year ended September, Japan's trade surplus has crashed 85.6 percent from the same period of last year to 802 billion yen or $8.21 billion, the lowest level in more than 26 years, the ministry said. Declining exports to the United States and Europe due to the credit crisis and higher energy prices were mainly blamed for the trend.