TOKYO (AP) — Japan's trade deficit surged to a record 7.6 trillion yen ($74.9 billion) in the first half of the year as exports failed to keep pace with surging imports, the Finance Ministry reported Thursday.
Japan's bulging import bill was partly due to a jump in demand as businesses and consumers stepped up purchases ahead of an April 1 increase in the sales tax to 8 percent from 5 percent.
Imports for the six months jumped 10 percent to 42.6 trillion yen ($420 billion) while exports rose 3.2 percent to 35.1 trillion yen ($346 billion), the preliminary data show.
Imports from China including industrial machinery, consumer products and food jumped 14 percent, leaving Japan with a 2.92 trillion deficit with China for the first half.
Japan maintained a surplus with the U.S. in the first half of the year, at 2.8 trillion yen ($27.6 billion), as exports rose 4 percent while imports climbed 12 percent.
The deficit in June alone more than tripled from the year before to a higher-than-expected 822.2 billion yen ($8.1 billion). Imports surged 8.4 percent year-on-year to 6.76 trillion yen ($66.6 billion), while exports fell 2 percent to 5.94 trillion yen ($58.5 billion), the ministry said.
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