( dpa ) - Japan's trade surplus in 2007 widened 37 per cent to 10.82 trillion yen (101.98 billion dollars), growing for the first time in three years, thanks to robust auto and steel exports, the Finance Ministry said Thursday.
Exports hit a record high for the sixth consecutive year at 83.94 trillion yen, up 11.6 per cent. Imports also renewed a record for the fifth consecutive year at 73.12 trillion yen, up 8.6 per cent.
Japan's trade surplus with the United States fell 5.1 per cent to 8.56 trillion yen, marking the first decline in four years.
Exports narrowed 0.2 per cent to 16.9 trillion yen mainly due to a decline in shipments of construction machinery as housing investment in the United States became stagnant amid the subprime housing loan problem.
Imports from the United States grew 5.4 per cent to 8.34 trillion yen.
Trade surplus with other Asian nations hit a record 8.88 trillion yen, up 38.5 per cent.
Exports to the region increased 12.9 per cent to a record 40.4 trillion yen, and imports expanded 7.3 per cent to a record 31.51 trillion yen.
Japan's trade deficit with mainland China shrank 26.9 per cent to 2.19 trillion yen. Exports jumped 19 per cent to 12.84 trillion yen, and imports rose 9 per cent to 15.03 trillion yen. Both were record highs.
China on the combined value of exports and imports with Japan has become Tokyo's best trading partner for the first time after the war.
Japan's trade surplus with the European Union widened 20 per cent to a record 4.75 trillion yen.
Exports rose 13.4 per cent to a record 12.41 trillion yen, and imports grew 9.6 per cent to a record 7.66 trillion yen.
In December alone, Japan's trade surplus with the rest of the world declined 20.9 per cent from a year earlier to 877.9 billion yen.
Exports rose 6.9 per cent to 7.44 trillion yen on demand for automobiles, and imports were up 12.1 per cent to 6.56 trillion yen on rising oil prices.
The trade data are measured on a customs-cleared basis before adjustment for seasonal factors.