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Japan’s Trade Surplus Falls for Seventh Consecutive Month With AM-Trade Deficit

December 10, 1987

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan’s trade surplus declined for a seventh straight month in November, falling 36 percent from a year earlier as the stronger yen continued to affect the country’s imports and exports, the Finance Ministry said Thursday.

The surplus, which was not adjusted for seasonal factors, totaled $4.74 billion, down from $7.4 billion in November 1986.

Japan’s trade surplus with the United States was $4.2 billion, a drop of 14 percent from $5 billion in November of last year, the official said.

The rising value of the yen against the dollar has made Japanese goods more expensive abroad and foreign goods cheaper in Japan.

The Finance Ministry announcement came the same day as the U.S. Commerce Department reported a record $17.6 billion U.S. trade deficit for October. The Japanese surplus figures should be reflected in the Commerce Department’s report for November, which will not be released until next month.

The Finance Ministry official said Japan’s imports from the United States rose 40.1 percent last month to $2.8 billion from November 1986. Japan’s exports to the United States increased by 1.7 percent to $7 billion.

The improvement in the trade balance with the United States was attributed to the yen’s strength against the dollar and the Japanese government’s efforts to promote imports.

Japan’s overall imports rose by 49 percent from a year earlier to a monthly record $14.2 billion in November, while exports grew by 11.8 percent to $18.9 billion, the official said.

The official traced the overall import surge in part to rising prices of oil, Japan’s major import commodity. The price climbed from an average of $13.50 a barrel in November 1986 to $18.33 a barrel last month, he said.

Imports of foodstuffs from the United States increased 41.6 percent, while chemical products showed a 3.3 percent rise. Imports of machinery - including business machines, semiconductors and other electronic devices and motor vehicles - climbed 63.6 percent.

Meanwhile, Japan’s exports of motor vehicles to the United States dropped 11.6 percent and color television shipments plunged 56 percent.

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