Japan's trade deficit expands 70 per cent in April

Japan's trade deficit expands 70 per cent in April

TOKYO - Japan's trade deficit expanded a worse-than-expected 70 per cent on year to US$8.6 billion (S$10.84 billion) in April, government data showed Wednesday, as a weaker yen made imports costlier.

The monthly trade deficit came to 879.9 billion yen ($S$10.84 billion), 69.7 per cent higher than the year-before deficit of 518.4 billion yen, finance ministry data showed.

The deficit was the biggest for the month of April in comparable official data that goes back to 1979 and was also worse than a shortfall of 620 billion yen economists predicted on average in a poll by the Nikkei business daily.

Exports in April rose 3.8 per cent to 5.78 trillion yen while imports jumped 9.4 per cent to 6.66 trillion yen.

The yen's average rate was 96.01 to the dollar in April against 82.31 in April 2012, meaning the value of the Japanese currency fell by nearly 17 per cent on year, the data showed.

A lower yen helps Japanese exporters but pushes up import bills.

Higher import costs have been resulting in higher materials and parts prices, which are leading to higher retail prices of various items ranging from foodstuff to laptops.

With the yen hitting multi-year lows against the dollar, some politicians have started voicing concerns over its negative impact on people's lives.

Japan's fuel imports have also stayed high as most of its nuclear reactors remain off-line since the huge earthquake and tsunami in 2011 sparked the world's worst atomic accident in a generation.

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