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Economy

Japan's trade deficit widens in November

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan saw a widening goods trade deficit in November as the cost of oil imports surged while smartphone-related exports to Asia plummeted, government data showed Wednesday.

The country logged a deficit of 737.3 billion yen ($6.6 billion) with the rest of the world, the second straight month of red ink following a revised 450.1 billion yen deficit in October.

Imports rose 12.5 percent from a year earlier to 7.66 trillion yen. Unrefined oil made the largest contribution, surging on the back of an earlier rise in global market valuations.

A recent fall in oil prices has yet to be reflected on a customs-cleared basis, which the Finance Ministry uses to compile the monthly report on trade figures, an official said.

Meanwhile, exports only managed to edge up 0.1 percent to 6.93 trillion yen amid a slowdown in demand for smartphones in Asia.

Among exported items that logged the biggest declines were South Korea-bound chip manufacturing machinery and liquid crystal displays going to China, while there was increased demand from the Bahamas for tankers.

By region, Japan's deficit with its largest trading partner, China rose to 503.1 billion yen deficit as imports of personal computers and smartphones grew.

Against the whole of Asia, Japan had a shrinking surplus of 165.9 billion yen.

Japan had a surplus of 623.4 billion yen against the United States, although growth in imports such as corn used as animal feed outpaced a modest rise in exports including aircraft engines. Exports of automobiles and car parts to the United States fell.

Against the European Union, Japan's deficit grew to 138.2 billion yen amid an increase in imports of German automobiles and medicine from Ireland.

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