Japan's imports and exports slump amid global crisis

Imports and Exports | | MIC Customs Solutions |

Japan has now confirmed 15 straight months of declines in exports.

New figures have revealed Japan's economy is struggling amid the growing impact of the coronavirus outbreak on world trade.

According to data from the country's Finance Ministry, its exports declined for a 15th straight month in February 2020 as purchases from both the US and China waned.

Meanwhile, imports from China slumped at their fastest pace since 1986 after the pandemic led to Chinese factories shutting down in a bid to halt the spread of the disease.

Indeed, Japan's imports of Chinese goods slowed 14 per cent year-on-year, while a 47.1 per cent fall was witnessed in February alone.

Japanese exports to China fell by 0.4 per cent, while US-bound exports of products such as cars and electronics dipped 2.6 per cent.

In total, Japan's worldwide imports declined by 14 per cent, roughly in line with economists' predictions of 14.4 per cent, and exports fell by a total of one per cent.

This 15-month contraction is the longest run since the 23 months to July 1987, Refinitiv reported. It also led to Japan's trade balance recording its largest surplus since September 2007.

Analysts have said this is the strongest evidence seen so far of the widening impact of coronavirus on global trade. It comes just days after a Japanese survey showed business confidence had declined to a decade-long low.

"The import figures are stunning. I'm increasingly convinced that Japan is in a recession," said economist Takeshi Minami from the Norinchukin Research Institute in an interview with BloombergQuint.

It is expected that the figures from Japan will pick up over the coming months as China resumes production and the number of coronavirus cases hopefully declines.

However, with large parts of Europe still on lockdown, the Asian country may have further difficult times to weather, due to its famously export-oriented economy.

Japan had already been publishing disappointing trade data late last year, with a dispute between it and South Korea and the ongoing spat between China and the US uniting to dampen growth.