Japan exports fall for the 5th month

- REUTERS, TOKYO

May 23, 2019-

Japanese exports contracted for the fifth month in April due to a slump in shipments of chip-making equipment to China, underlining the growing threat to the world’s third-biggest economy from a bruising Sino-US trade war.

Data also showed Japan’s trade surplus with the United States rose for a second month as auto exports accelerated, which could draw US President Donald Trump’s ire before US-Japan trade negotiations begin this week followed by a leaders’ summit a few days later.

Trump’s government is trying to renegotiate trade agreements with major economies to lower the US trade deficit and address what it considers to be unfair trade practices.

That approach has set-off an intensifying tariff dispute between the United States and China—two major trading partners of Japan—in a blow to global businesses, trade and overall growth.

Washington’s stance is doubly harmful to Japan because it has slammed the breaks on exports to neighbouring China and exposes the trade-reliant economy to curbs on its shipments of cars to the United States.

“Some Japanese companies are still optimistic about a resolution to recent trade friction, but the implications are quite serious,” said Hiroshi Miyazaki, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

“On one hand, we may reach a point where Japanese companies shift production from China or other places. On the other hand, Japanese policymakers need to make sure US-Japan trade stays out of the spotlight.”

Ministry of Finance (MOF) data showed on Wednesday Japan’s exports fell 2.4% in April from a year earlier, down for a fifth straight month. That compared with a 1.8% drop seen by analysts in a Reuters poll, and a similar 2.4% decline in March.

Exports to China fell 6.3% in April from a year earlier, down for the second consecutive month.

Published: 23-05-2019 10:08

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