Japan recorded its first trade surplus in six years in 2016 amid recent remarks by US President Donald Trump about Tokyo’s trade advantage against the United States.
Japan’s US$60 billion trade surplus with the US last year was its largest with any nation, lifting its overall trade balance to a surplus of US$36 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing data released by the finance ministry in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Japan’s biggest category of exports was autos and auto parts, accounting for about 40 percent of Japanese shipments to the US in 2016.
The news came right after Trump accused Japan of putting up non-tariff barriers to US auto makers, while benefiting from strong sales of its cars in the US, the newspaper said.
“We sell a car into Japan and they do things to us that make it impossible to sell cars in Japan,” the new US president was quoted as saying in a meeting with US business leaders on Monday.
Japanese officials say there are no barriers to US cars in the local market.
A weaker yen at the end of last year helped lift the value of Japanese exports for the first time in 15 months in December, the Journal said.
While Japan’s trade surplus with the US remained strong in 2016, it fell 5 percent from a year earlier, the report said.
Auto exports to the US rose 8 percent to 1.75 million vehicles last year, it said, citing data from the the finance ministry in Tokyo.
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