The Financial Express

Japan exports fall amid natural disasters in September

| Updated: November 21, 2018 20:40:30

Japan posts $1.2b trade surplus in September

Japan recorded a trade surplus for September of $ 1.2 billion (139.6 billion yen), but exports fell 1.2 per cent from the previous year in the first decline for the world’s third largest economy since 2016.

A series of natural disasters took a toll, but the lag in exports also reflects uncertainties over trade tensions after US President Donald Trump imposed penalty tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese exports. Weaker US-China trade generally hurts the export-dependent Japanese economy.

Imports rose 7.0 per cent, according to data released Thursday by the Ministry of Finance.

During the month, a major earthquake hit the northernmost island of Hokkaido, causing fatal landslides and widespread blackouts, while a typhoon struck the western Kansai area and temporarily shut down a major airport.

Those events followed deadly flooding in southwestern Japan and a quake in Osaka earlier this year.

The last time Japan’s exports fell on-year was in November 2016, when they slipped 0.4 per cent, data show.

For the six months through September, the first fiscal half, exports grew 5.2 per cent, while imports rose 10 per cent, reports AP.

Junichi Makino, analyst with SMBC Nikko Securities, said one factor behind the numbers was the recent rise in oil prices, which boosts the value of Japan’s imports.

Japan imports almost all its oil. But Makino said the volume of global trade was holding up overall despite the trade war between China and the US.

The Trump administration intends to pursue trade agreements with the European Union and Britain, as well as Japan.

The administration recently reached a deal with Canada and Mexico to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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