TOKYO – Japan’s current account surplus widened in January, marking the 67th straight month of black ink, due to increases in returns of overseas foreign investments that offset a larger deficit in goods trade, government data showed Monday.
The surplus in the current account — one of the widest gauges of international trade — rose 6.6 percent from a year earlier to 612.3 billion yen ($5.89 billion), the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report.
Among key components, primary income, which reflects returns on overseas investments, registered a surplus of 1.85 trillion yen, up 4.8 percent from a year earlier.
“At the base is the increase in Japan’s foreign investments,” said a ministry official, in explaining the rise in primary income.
The deficit in goods trade widened 1.6 percent from the previous year to 985.1 billion yen.
Exports dropped 4.8 percent to 5.55 trillion yen, affected by weak auto and construction machinery shipments to the United States, while imports also decreased 3.9 percent to 6.53 trillion yen, weighed by falls in liquefied natural gas from Australia and communication devices from China.
Japan’s services trade deficit, including cargo shipping and passenger transport, expanded to 162.7 billion yen from 149.7 billion yen, as revenues from Japanese companies’ overseas research, development and consulting decreased.
In services, a surplus in the travel balance registered a January record at 266.9 billion yen due to increases in spending by foreign travelers visiting Japan.
But for February, inbound travelers are expected to drop sharply as China banned groups from leaving in late January as a measure to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.