Japan's trade surplus of 68.95 billion yen in April marks an 85-per cent decline from the 458.7 billion yen surplus in April 2008, discloses the country's finance ministry data released today.
Exports declined 39.1 per cent in April from the previous year, a less severe decline compared to 46.5-per cent fall recorded in March, indicating that though exports continued to fall, the decline is less harsh, as exports to China have increased replacing the US as the country's main trading partner. (See: Japan's current account surplus down 48.8 per cent in March YoY).
It was however lower than the 41.9 per cent decline forecast by most analysts, However, on a seasonally adjusted basis, exports in April were up 1.9 per cent from March.
Imports fell 35.8 per cent compared to a decline of 37.8 per cent recorded in March as domestic demand for foreign goods continued to remain sluggish.
According to the Bank of Japan, exports alone accounted about 16 per cent of Japan's gross domestic product in the fiscal year ended 31 March.
Japan, which is heavily dependent on export demand to drive its economy, saw its trade surplus fall 99 per cent to 10.96 billion yen in March on a year-on-year basis.
In the first quarter of 2009, Japan's exports declined by 26 per cent, while imports fell 15 per cent for the first time in three quarters, marking their biggest-ever declines.
Japan's economy shrank at its fastest pace recorded since 1955 in the January-March 2009 period, as the country's exports collapsed due to the ongoing global recession.(See: Japan's GDP shrinks 15.2 per cent in January-March 2009)
Although sales to the US have declined, companies like Nissan have reported growth in sales to China. All the three major Japanese automakers have reported losses as export have tumbled. (See: Nissan reports ¥233.7 billion loss for FY09, projects net loss of ¥170 billion for FY2010).
Last month, Toyota Motors forecast sales in China to grow by at least a third in 2009 as global demand for its fuel-efficient models are expected to pick up. The automaker also plans to launch its luxury brand, the Lexus in India. (See: Toyota to launch Lexus in India soon) and is using technology to develop an innovative environmental vehicle in its quest to dominate alternate-fuel vehicles. (See: Toyota secretly developing total solar energy powered).
Honda Motors too expects its sales in China to increase this financial year for its fuel-efficient gasoline-electric cars.
From the data released, exports have done fairly better in the last two months in-spite of the fall for seven consecutive months which corroborates analysts' views that exports bottomed out in February, when they plummeted 49.4 per cent. (See: Japan's trade nearly halves in February)
Yesterday, the government came out with a $3-billion loan fund from government-affiliated banks to help Japanese firms operating in developing countries in Asia. (See: Japan lines up $3-billion loan package for small overseas Japanes firms)