Shipments to overseas dropped 6.8 percent from a year earlier, while imports declined 14.9 percent, leaving a surplus of 755 billion yen ($6.9 billion). That was less than the 834.6 billion yen forecast in a Bloomberg survey.
Even as concern rises among Japanese policy makers that the yen’s 10 percent appreciation this year will undermine exports, the gain cuts the nation’s import bill. The average oil price declined 21 percent in March this year from the same month in 2015, cutting Japan’s fuel costs. The country depends on overseas supplies for almost all its energy, a situation worsened by the continued shutdown of most its nuclear reactors.
The yen was trading at 109.24 per dollar at 8:55x a.m. in Tokyo. The currency’s advance this year reverses the trend that saw it drop almost 30 percent over the previous three years.