Japan exports fall for 10th straight month in September
TOKYO, Oct 21: Japan's exports fell for a 10th straight month in September as trade tensions between the US and China hit demand for machinery and other manufacturing mainstays, the government said Monday.
The Finance Ministry said the trade deficit in September totaled $1.1 billion, a third consecutive month of red ink.
Exports fell 5.2per cent from the same month in 2018, with slower shipments of machinery, vehicles and auto parts. Imports dropped 1.5per cent.
Japan's exports to the US dropped nearly 8per cent from a year earlier, as exports of vehicles sank 16per cent. Imports from the US declined 12per cent. The trade surplus with America fell 3.5per cent to 564.1 billion yen ($5.2 billion).
But there were signs of improvement in demand for semiconductors, suggesting a slump in the sector may be bottoming out, economists said.
Exports of semiconductors rose 4per cent from a year earlier despite double-digit drops in most other categories of electrical machinery. Exports of integrated circuits jumped 9.1per cent, the data showed.
Export volumes stabilized somewhat, while the value of exports fell due to weaker prices.
"The risk that exports will shrink drastically has subsided, but it is expected that time will be needed before exports can recover considerably," said Harumi Taguchi, an economist with IHS Markit.
The tariff war between the US and China has taken a toll across the region, hurting manufacturers within extended supply chains. Meanwhile, a dispute between Japan and South Korea over exports of certain high-tech goods has added to uncertainty.
Japan's exports to South Korea sank nearly 11per cent from a year earlier in April-September and 16per cent in September. The declines were biggest in key categories such as semiconductor manufacturing equipment and other high-tech components.
Given the weak demand from Japan's main trading partners, it's "too early to sound the all clear," Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a commentary.
He is forecasting that Japan's exports will decline 1.5per cent year-on-year this year and 2.7per cent in 2020. -AFP