Japan recorded a double-digit drop in its trade surplus in July

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Japan recorded a double-digit drop in its trade surplus in July as costs of energy imports rose on a weaker yen, government data showed on Thursday.

The world’s third-largest economy logged a surplus of 418.8 billion yen ($3.8 billion), down 17 percent from a year earlier, according to data from the finance ministry, reports BSS.

Overall exports in July rose 13.4 percent year-on-year, marking the eighth consecutive monthly gain on robust shipments of automobiles and semiconductors.

Imports grew 16.3 percent for a seventh monthly rise, boosted mainly by higher bills for liquefied natural gas and coal.

The ministry said that the yen was on average 9.0 percent cheaper against the US dollar in July compared to the same month the year before, making Japan’s imports costlier. Energy prices, mostly denominated in dollars, also rose during the month.

Japan’s politically sensitive trade surplus with the United States rose 9.1 percent on increased exports of cars and microchip-production devices, the ministry said.

The nation’s trade flows with the US, over which the two countries battled for decades into the 1990s, had become less of a hot-button issue under recent presidential administrations.

But President Donald Trump has vowed to root out “unfair” trade practices around the world, targeting other countries including Japan.

Japan posted the first trade surplus with the European Union in three months, while its deficit with China decreased by 4.3 percent.

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