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Economy in Brief

Another Big Trade Deficit for Japan According to the First 10 and 20 Days trade Balances
by Louise Curley  May 22, 2012

The effects of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan last year are still being felt. The disruptions in production led to a decline in exports and a rise in imports. Japan's typical trade surplus, was turned into a deficit of 2,564.7 billion yen for the year as a whole, compared with a surplus in the previous year of 6,634.7 billion yen. The deterioration in trade balance during 2011 can be seen in the first chart showing monthly data. The deficits continued into the current year with a large deficit of 1481.5 billion yen in January. February saw a small surplus but a small deficit returned in March.

Japan publishes data on the first 10 and 20 days merchandise trade balances. These data give an estimate of the trade balance for the month. They may overestimate or underestimate the final result for the month depending on the daily pattern of the trade flows. In January, February and March of this year it appears that the last 11, 9 and 11days respectively of the months came in with more surpluses than deficits as the monthly balances were smaller than the balances of the first 20 days. The first 10 and 20 days of trade balances for April are pointing to a big deficit once again. Given the experience of the first three months of the year, the deficit may be lower than the indicated 798 billion yen.

The First 10 and 20 days of trade balances are shown in the second and third charts, along with the trade balance for the month and the correlation between the two.

2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
Trade Balance -- -84.5 25.4 -1481.4 -2564.7 6634.7 2671.2 2063.3 10795.5
First 10 Days Trade Balance -455.2 -53.8 7.6 -91.6 -- -- -- -- --
First 20 Days Trade Balance -798.1 -191.2 -68.6 -1560.6 -- -- -- -- --
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