TOKYO, April 17 (Xinhua) -- Japan logged a goods trade deficit in fiscal 2018 marking the first such shortfall in three years, the government said in a report Wednesday.
According to a preliminary report by the Finance Ministry, Japan's deficit in the year through March stood at 1.59 trillion yen (14.18 billion U.S. dollars).
From a year earlier, Japan's exports increased 1.9 percent to 80.71 trillion yen (720.33 billion U.S. dollars), while imports in the same period climbed 7.1 percent to 82.29 trillion yen (734.43 billion U.S. dollars).
The Finance Ministry said the rise in exports was owing to an uptick in orders for automobiles and ships, and that imports jumping was down to a rise in energy prices, including those for crude oil and liquefied natural gas brought into resource-poor Japan from overseas.
Japan's economy is still heavily reliant on its export sector, but overseas demand has waned of late amid increased regional competition for technological goods.
A backdrop of slowing demand as the outlook for the global economy has been hazy in recent months, has also led to major economies reining in their capital spending, which has also led to a slump in exports from Japan, economists here said.
Japan's trade surplus with the United States dropped 6.7 percent from a year ago at 6.53 trillion yen (58.29 billion U.S. dollars), the Finance Ministry said, with exports from Japan to the United States rising 2.9 percent to 15.63 trillion yen (139.52 billion U.S. dollars) in the recording period.
Japan's trade deficit with China increased for the first time in three years to 3.58 trillion yen (31.95 billion U.S. dollars), the ministry said, with both exports and imports rising 2.9 and 3.5 percent, respectively.
Japan's trade surplus with Asia plummeted for the first time in five years, falling 14.4 percent to 5 trillion yen (44.63 billion U.S. dollars), with exports rising 1.3 percent and imports expanding 3.7 percent, the Finance Ministry said.
Japan logged a trade deficit with the European Union for the seventh successive year, the ministry said, at 421.7 billion yen (3.76 billion U.S. dollars), with imports reaching a record high in the recording period at 9.69 trillion yen (86.49 billion U.S. dollars).
Japan booked a goods trade surplus in the month of March, with the balance standing at 528.5 billion yen (4.71 billion U.S. dollars).
The ministry said that exports in March dropped 2.4 percent from a year earlier, while imports increased 1.1 percent from a year earlier.