Japan recorded a larger-than-expected trade deficit during January 2017, according to the latest government data.
During the month, the country's exports rose by only 1.3 per cent compared to January 2016, lower than the industry estimate of five per cent. At the same time, imports rose by 8.5 per cent, outstripping expectations of a 4.8 per cent rise.
This marked the first year-on-year rise in imports for two years, with the result of creating an overall trade deficit for January of 1.1 trillion yen (€9.09 billion). This was higher than the expected 625.9 billion yen deficit.
Key drivers of the trends seen in January include a fall in car exports and a rise in energy import costs; however, economists polled by Bloomberg were quick to note that many of these issues are temporary, and that rising global demand will be a key driver of Japanese economic growth throughout 2017.
Bob Baur, chief global economist at Principal Global Investors, said: "Exports were really good in the fourth quarter. Imports are better than people think, and that means somebody is buying, which I think is positive in the longer term for Japan."