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Kuwait's Jan. trade surplus with Japan down 48.6 pct

TOKYO, Feb 21 (KUNA) -- Kuwait's trade surplus with Japan in January narrowed 48.6 percent from a year earlier to JPY 56.8 billion (USD 377 million), down for the first time in two months, due to slow exports, government data showed Wednesday.
However, Kuwait stayed in black ink with Japan for 16 years on a monthly basis, as exports still outpaced imports in value, the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report.
Overall exports from Kuwait to Japan plunged 44.8 percent year-on-year to JPY 69.9 billion (USD 464 million) for the first decline in two months. Imports from Japan also fell 18.9 percent to JPY 13.1 billion (USD 86 million), the first fall in two months.
Middle East's trade surplus with Japan also narrowed 21.0 percent to JPY 797.8 billion (USD 5.3 billion) last month, with Japan-bound exports from the region sliding 14.1 percent from a year earlier, it said.
Crude oil, refined products, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other natural resources, which accounted for 95.2 percent of the region's total exports to Japan, shrank 14.5 percent.
The region's overall imports from Japan grew 16.6 percent on robust demand for automobiles, machinery, manufactured goods and electrical machinery.
Japan's global trade balance returned to deficit in January, marking the first red ink in two months at JPY 1.8 trillion (USD 11.7 billion).
Exports increased 11.9 percent from the year before, buoyed by shipments of vehicle, semiconductor production and auto parts.
Imports dropped 9.6 percent on lower energy bills, especially coal and LNG. China remained Japan's biggest trade partner, followed by the US. The trade data are measured on a customs-cleared basis before adjustment for seasonal factors. (end) mk.mt