TOKYO — Japan logged a goods trade surplus of 285.36 billion yen ($2.5 billion) in October, its fifth straight month of black ink, amid robust exports to China and the rest of Asia, government data showed Monday.
The trade surplus, however, was 40.7 percent smaller than a year earlier amid a rise in energy imports, the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report.
Improvement in the global economy and a weaker yen has helped push Japan’s exports higher, providing a bright spot for the country as domestic demand and inflation remain tepid.
Exports on a global basis rose 14.0 percent from a year before to 6.69 trillion yen, while imports climbed 18.9 percent to 6.41 trillion yen.
Japan’s trade deficit with China, its largest trading partner, shrank 22.5 percent to minus 265.68 billion yen. Exports to the country logged a record-high for a single month, jumping 26 percent to 1.35 trillion yen amid strong demand for tech-related manufacturing equipment and cars.
Imports from China increased 14.3 percent to 1.62 trillion yen, boosted by clothing and smartphones.
Against all of Asia, Japan logged a trade surplus of 510.05 billion yen.
“The figures confirm the fact that exports, especially bound for Asia, are on a moderate growth track,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at the Norinchukin Research Institute.
Forecasts from the International Monetary Fund and other bodies suggest that firmness in the global economy will continue for some time, supporting Japan’s exports and propping up the economy, he added.
Japan ran a trade surplus of 644.68 billion yen with the United States as exports grew 7.1 percent to 1.28 trillion yen, outpacing a 3.1 percent rise in imports to 637.04 billion yen.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been critical of the two countries’ trade relations, accusing Tokyo of not conducting “fair and open” trade during the Japan leg of his tour of Asia earlier this month and pushing for more imports of American cars.
Japan posted a trade deficit of 50.32 billion yen with the European Union.
The figures were measured on a customs-cleared basis.