Sat, 19 Sep 2020

TOKYO, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Japan's current account surplus dropped to a more than five-year low in the first half of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic took a severe toll on the nation's exports, the government said in a report on Tuesday.

According to the Finance Ministry, in the first half of 2020, the current account surplus stood at 7.31 trillion yen (68.74 billion U.S. dollars), marking its lowest level since the second half of 2014.

The ministry also said in its preliminary report that the current account surplus shrank 31.4 percent during the first six months of 2020 compared with the same period last year.

The goods trade balance logged a 1.10 trillion yen deficit (10.34 billion U.S. dollars), due to exports of automobiles and related parts being particularly hard hit by the global pandemic, the data showed.

Compared to a year earlier, exports tumbled 15.6 percent to 32.01 trillion yen (301.01 billion U.S. dollars), while imports fell 12.3 percent to 33.10 trillion yen, the ministry also said.

During the first six months of 2020, the primary balance, reflecting returns on investments made overseas, booked a surplus of 10.43 trillion yen (98.05 billion U.S. dollars), down 4.0 percent from a year earlier.

Services trade, which includes inbound travelers as well as cargo from shipping, booked a 1.17 trillion yen deficit (11 billion U.S. dollars), as stricter restrictions were imposed on international travel in a bid to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, the ministry also said.

Japan reported a current account surplus of 167.5 billion yen (1.57 billion U.S. dollars) for the month of June, marking the 72nd straight month of surplus, according to the government's latest data set.

In this recording period, Japan posted a goods trade deficit of 77.3 billion yen (726.76 million U.S. dollars), staying in the red for a third straight month, while its services trade deficit came in at 157.7 billion yen (1.48 billion U.S. dollars), also down for a third month.

The nation's primary income, however, posted a surplus of 426.4 billion yen (4 billion U.S. dollars), although this was 5.8 percent lower compared to the previous year, the ministry said.

Japan's current account surplus is one of the broadest measures of its trade with the rest of the world.

The data is keenly eyed by the Bank of Japan (BOJ) and the Finance Ministry ahead of new potential policy changes or monetary easing or tapering measures.

In Japan, the current account surplus increases the nation's net foreign assets by the corresponding amount, and a current account deficit does the reverse.

Both the Japanese government and private payments are included in the calculation and it is called the current account because goods and services are generally consumed in the current period.

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