The trade deficit has reached a record level of Y2.9 trillion ($37.3 billion) in the first half of the year in Japan, as exports fell and costs with energy imports soared.
The situation can be explained by several factors, of which the most important are the global financial crisis, the strong yen and the effects of last year’s quake and tsunami which triggered an energy crisis in Japan.
The cost of liquefied natural gas imports rose by 50 percent, while crude oil shipments were 16 percent more expensive, according to official data. Moreover, Japan’s imports rose 7.4 percent in the first half of the year, while exports grew just 1.5 percent.
“Japan’s trade balance continues to show a trend of weak exports and extreme sensitivity to import prices, such as those of crude oil,” said a top official at RBS Securities Japan. “The crisis in Europe is posing a growing risk to Japan’s economic recovery scenario.”
Analysts are worried for the period to come, as well. “While exports to Europe and China were already weak, we now see that export (growth) to the US may also be declining,” said an economist at Japan Research Institute. “I believe Japan will post another annual trade deficit. We’re already in the red looking at the last six months, and it’s too late to regain our losses.”