Japan logs first annual trade deficit in 28 years

Japan's economyTokyo- Japan's trade balance for fiscal 2008 marked the first deficit in 28 years due to rises in commodity prices and slower exports to the United States and other major economies, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday

The nation's trade deficit logged 725.32 billion yen (7.38 billion dollars) in fiscal 2008 that ended in March, the ministry said.

Japan last registered a trade deficit in 1980, when the balance was skewed by soaring crude oil prices.

Exports for fiscal 2008 lagged at 71.14 trillion yen, down 16.4 per cent from the previous year, while imports slid 4.1 per cent to 71.87 trillion yen. It was the first time in seven years that both components declined.

For the month of March, the trade balance recorded a surplus of 10.96 billion yen. Exports plunged 45.6 per cent to 4.18 trillion yen and imports fell 36.7 per cent to 4.17 trillion yen.

With the United States, Japan's trade surplus plunged 76.7 per cent to 154.4 billion yen. Exports dropped 51.4 per cent to 665.7 billion yen, and imports declined 27.6 per cent to 511.3 billion yen.

In trade with China, Japan logged a deficit of 174.55 billion yen, against the year before deficit of 62.24 billion yen. Exports shrank 31.5 per cent to 790.5 billion yen, and imports fell 20.7 per cent to 965.1 billion yen.

The trade figures are measured on a customs-cleared basis before adjustments for seasonal factors. (dpa)