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BRIEFLY

Trade

June 11, 1996|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Japan Trade Surplus Declines in April: Japan's contentious trade surplus plummeted by almost half in April on surging imports and sluggish exports, reflecting structural changes in that nation's economy. Official figures show the surplus in the current account, the broadest measure of Japan's trade in goods and services, plunged by about 45% in April from a year earlier to $5.09 billion. The surplus in merchandise trade, a narrower measure, shrank to virtually half the size it was a year earlier. The merchandise trade surplus for April fell just under 49%, to $5.12 billion, according to the Finance Ministry. Economists said the latest big adjustment in the trade imbalance reflects Japan's continuing shift away from being an export-led economy to one with more open markets and greater offshore production of goods. But they said the rate of shrinkage in the surplus may start to slow.

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