Japan’s current account surplus for April down 69.5%

Japan’s current account surplus plunged 69.5 percent from a year earlier in April, the finance ministry said Wednesday, as the March earthquake and tsunami badly hampered factory production.

While the drop was much smaller than falls of more than 80 percent forecast by economists, it was the smallest surplus for the month of April in 26 years.

The surplus in the current account — the broadest measure of trade with the rest of the world — fell to 405.6 billion yen ($5.0 billion) in April from 1.33 trillion yen a year earlier, official data showed.

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Japan takes Canada to WTO over renewable energy rules

Japan asked the World Trade Organization on Wednesday to form a legal panel to decide whether Canadian provincial backing for solar and wind energy projects gives an unfair advantage to domestic equipment makers.

Japan has given up direct attempts to resolve a spat over an Ontario scheme that guarantees prices for renewable energy as long as it is generated with Canadian-made equipment, Japan’s ambassador to the WTO said in a letter to the chairman of the WTO’s disputes division.

"Consultations failed to resolve the dispute. As a result, Japan respectfully requests that a panel be established to examine this matter," Ambassador Yoichi Otabe wrote.

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India and Japan PMs seal the deal on a new trade pact, discuss nuclear deal

India and Japan’s premiers Monday said they had broadly agreed on a pact to step up trade between the population giant and the high-tech nation but needed time for a deal on civilian nuclear cooperation.

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart Naoto Kan also stressed the warm ties linking two of Asia’s biggest democracies, at a time of high diplomatic tensions between Japan and communist-ruled China.

Kan said after talks with Singh, who was on a three-day Tokyo visit, that "through this meeting, we were able to confirm and be confident about progress in the strategic global partnership between Japan and India".

The two leaders declared the completion of talks on a free trade and investment pact, with a formal signing expected in coming months, under which tariffs on 94 percent of trade would be phased out within a decade.

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