Japan returns to trade surplus in June

TOKYO • Japanese trade returned to surplus in June, with both imports and exports continuing the strong growth they have had all year.

Exports rose 9.7% from a year earlier (estimate 9.5%). Imports increased 15.5% (estimate 14.4%). The trade surplus was ¥439.9 billion (RM16.72 billion) (estimate +¥488 billion).

The data come hours before the Bank of Japan (BoJ) is expected to announce that it’s keeping monetary policy unchanged. The nation’s modest economic recovery reflected in the trade data and the move to tighter policy by other major central banks is putting pressure on policymakers in Japan to be clearer about their plans to normalise monetary policy.

Some lawmakers are starting to press the BoJ to communicate more openly about its future exit strategy, and the BoJ is re-calibrating its communications on the subject while firmly maintaining that such a policy change won’t happen anytime soon, according to people with knowledge of discussions at the central bank.

Exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner, increased 19.5% from a year earlier. Shipments to the US rose or 7.1%. Those to the European Union climbed 9.6%. — Bloomberg