Japan publishes disappointing trade data

Imports and Exports | | MIC Customs Solutions |

Exports have fallen from Japan for the 12th consecutive month.

New figures have shown that exports from Japan fell by 7.9 per cent year-on-year in November 2019, the 12th consecutive month that a decline has been recorded.

This is the longest run of contractions since 2016 and has led to fears the famously trade-reliant economy could be about to slip into a recession.

The trade war between China and the US was largely blamed for the disappointing news, with shipments of products to both nations on the decline.

Exports to China fell by 5.4 per cent, down for the ninth month in a row, as shipments of chemicals and car parts suffered.

However, exports to Asia in general - which account for more than half of exports from Japan - also dropped 5.7 per cent.

Meanwhile, exports heading to the US decreased for the fourth month in a row, this time falling by a significant 12.9 per cent year-on-year.

This was attributed to fewer American purchases of cars, automotive parts and machinery for construction.

Further gloomy news came from another Asian neighbour, with two-way trade between Japan and South Korea declining 41 per cent as both exports and imports fell due to an ongoing dispute.

Atsushi Takeda, chief economist at Itochu Economic Research Institute, told Reuters: "Exports are quite weak. A recovery remained out in November even when looking at it on a volume basis."

Although the new data actually showed the Japanese economy to have grown at a faster pace than expected, analysts suggested this marginal gain could be wiped out by recent tax hikes imposed by the government.

Japan has already been taking action to mitigate against the increased protectionism that has been hurting its exports and imports, with prime minister Shinzo Abe this month announcing a new limited trade deal with the US.

This is to result in a raft of tariff cuts next year that could help to boost the economy.

Elsewhere, the Institute of Export and International Trade has said Japan is increasingly turning to the UK, with economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura saying he hopes to see Britain joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership after Brexit.