TOKYO, April 17 — Japan's monthly trade surplus with the United States grew nearly 10 per cent in March, according to official data yesterday likely to be seized upon by Washington in ongoing trade talks with Tokyo.
Data from the Japanese finance ministry showed that the trade surplus climbed by 9.8 per cent year-on-year to reach 683.6 billion yen (RM25.1 billion) last month.
The rise follows a 1.5 per cent dip in February and a 5.5 percent increase in January.
US President Donald Trump has frequently complained that Japan has an unfair advantage in bilateral trade and vowed to fix that.
And the fresh data came as trade ministers from both countries wrapped up a first round of trade talks in Washington.
According to a brief statement released by the US side, the two sides concentrated on "trade issues involving goods, including agriculture, as well as the need to establish high standards in the area of digital trade."
“In addition, the United States raised its very large trade deficit with Japan,” said the statement from the US Trade Representative, adding that the two sides would meet again soon to continue negotiations.
The trade surplus was chiefly due to a rise in exports of vehicles, machines for construction and mining, and semiconductor-making equipment, the ministry said.
At the same, imports from the US of liquefied petroleum gas, engines and aircraft declined, the ministry said.
Japan's overall trade surplus dropped 32.6 per cent last month to 528.5 billion yen, against market expectations of 363.2 billion yen.
Japan's trade deficit with China — the 12th consecutive monthly deficit — stood at 192.7 billion yen.
With the European Union, Japan's trade surplus stood at 44.3 billion yen. — AFP