(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) Kuwait's trade surplus with Japan widened 1.7 percent in November to JPY 82.0 billion (797 million) from a year earlier, marking the second straight month of expansion, as its export values were almost five times bigger than import values, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday. Kuwait maintained black ink with Japan for the 70th consecutive month, the ministry said in a preliminary report. Kuwaiti overall exports to Japan grew 6. 1 percent to JPY 100.2 billion (1.1 billion), up for the second month in a row, and imports from Japan rose 31.5 percent year-on-year to JPY 18.2 billion (177 million), up for the seventh straight month. Middle East's trade surplus with Japan jumped 35.3 percent to JPY 1.151 trillion (9.7 billion) last month, with Japan-bound exports from the region expanding 33.4 percent from a year earlier. Crude oil, refined products, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other natural resources, which accounted for 97.6 percent of the region's total exports to Japan, jumped 32.8 percent on the year.
The region's overall imports from Japan went up 24.7 percent, thanks to robust shipments of automobile, machinery, and steel. The world's third-biggest economy registered a global deficit of JPY 1.293 trillion (12.6 billion), in November as soaring energy costs offset export values, marking the 17th straight month of shortfall, the longest stretch of red i since 1979, when the country had been hit by the second oil shock. It was the third-biggest trade deficit for any month since comparable data became available in January 1979. Overall exports rose 18.4 percent to JPY 5.900 trillion (57.3 billion), buoyed by strong shipments of vehicles to the US amid falling yen. But imports also increased 21.1 percent to JPY 7.193 trillion (69.9 billion), as the weaker yen continued to push up fossil fuel imports costs, which comprise more than one third of all imports.
Japanese utilities have boosted fuel imports for thermal power generation, as all the nation's 50 workable nuclear reactors are currently offline in the wake of the radiation accident in March 2011 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami. Exports to China, Japan's biggest trading partner, jumped 33.1 percent, and imports from the country expanded 19.4 percent, despite a territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing. Japan's currency weakened about 23.3 percent from a year earlier to JPY 98. 43 in November, according to the ministry. The yen's depreciation supports exports by making Japanese products more competitive overseas and increase the value of repatriated overseas earning, but it also inflates import prices. The trade data are measured on a customs-cleared basis before adjustment for seasonal factors.