Thu, Feb 21, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Japan’s trade deficit hits five-year high over China

AP, TOKYO

Japan has reported that its exports last month tumbled 8.4 percent from a year earlier as slowing Chinese growth pushed its monthly trade deficit to the highest level in nearly five years.

Exports to all of Asia dropped 13 percent year-on-year, due largely to the 17 percent plunge in shipments to China, where growth has fallen to its slowest pace in three decades.

The politically delicate trade surplus with the US rose 5 percent to US$3.3 billion as exports climbed nearly 7 percent helped by rising shipments of vehicles and power generating machinery.

However, imports of US goods rose by a slightly higher margin on strong growth in purchases of US liquefied gas, coal and grains.

Japan’s total trade deficit expanded by nearly half from a year earlier to ¥1.4 trillion (US$12.8 billion), with exports totaling ¥5.6 trillion and imports at ¥7 trillion.

That was the fourth consecutive month of deficits and the biggest such gap since March 2014.

The weakening in trade is unwelcome news, with the economy expected to slow in October following a sales tax hike from 8 percent to 10 percent.

The decline in exports spanned most major categories of products, from chemicals and machinery to electronics and vehicles.

Imports of crude oil fell sharply as measured by value, due largely to lower prices.

The trends suggest a deteriorating outlook for trade as the US and China spar over technology policies and other issues, Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said.

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