Japanese Trade Surplus Rises 3.3% to Record $130 Billion : Commerce: However, much of the fiscal-year increase is blamed on the rising value of the yen.

From Associated Press

Japan's current account surplus, long a source of friction with the United States and other major trading partners, rose 3.3% to a record $130.04 billion in the fiscal year ended March 31, the Finance Ministry said Monday.

The current account, a broad measure of trade in goods and services plus certain other capital flows, amounted to $125.90 billion a year earlier.

The United States government has raised the possibility of imposing trade sanctions if Japan does not take steps to reduce its perennial surpluses.

Measured in yen, however, the fiscal 1993 surplus narrowed by 10% from the previous year as the rising yen encouraged spending by Japanese and discouraged purchases of Japanese products abroad.

The surplus fell to 14 trillion yen from fiscal 1992's 15.6 trillion.

The yen's rise against the dollar raises the value, in dollars, of Japanese exports.

The dollar was trading at about 102 yen at the end of fiscal 1993, compared to about 115 at the end of fiscal 1992.

Thus 1,000 yen worth of exports would have been worth $8.70 at the start of the fiscal year and $9.80 at the end.

Over the long run, analysts expect the dollar's effect on Japanese products' competitiveness to help shrink the surplus in both dollar and yen terms.

Last week, the dollar approached its modern record low of 100.40 yen, reached Aug. 17 last year. It closed Monday in Tokyo at 102.41 yen.

In March, the surplus fell 16% to $15.76 billion, from $18.79 billion a year earlier, the ministry said. In yen, March's current surplus plummeted 25%.

The ministry does not provide a breakdown of figures by country or region for the current account. In calendar 1993, Japan's trade surplus with the United States reached $59 billion.

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