TOKYO Japan's exports were expected to rise for a fourth straight month in March thanks to solid global demand, while imports were seen likely to gain at their fastest in three years as oil prices rose, a Reuters poll found.
Exports were seen likely to grow 6.7 percent in March from a year earlier after they surged 11.3 percent in February, the poll of 18 analysts showed.
That gain was the most in more than two years and included a rebound from January's Lunar New Year slowdown.
A recovery in oil prices and a weak yen pushed Japan's imports up 10.4 percent from a year ago, the fastest increase since March 2014 when they rose an annual 18.2 percent.
This would result in trade surplus at 575.8 billion yen, a third straight month of surplus.
"We see exports remaining on a rising trend on the back of global economic recovery," said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Research Institute. "Exports for January-March likely surpassed that of the previous quarter."
Demand for electronics components from Asian nations likely continued to bolster Japan's exports, analysts said.
The finance ministry will publish the trade data at 8:50 a.m. Japan time on Thursday (2350 GMT Wednesday).
Japan and the United States will start an economic dialogue on April 18, with Tokyo seeking to fend off U.S. pressure to reduce the bilateral trade imbalance.
The Trump administration's protectionist policy statements have worried Japanese leaders, given Japan's export-reliant economy.
Discussions at the dialogue next week will focus more on setting a "framework" for future talks rather than on specific industry issues, a White House official said.
(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Eric Meijer)