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Thu, Mar 25, 2010 - Page 10 News List

Japanese exports shoot up, Asia the main driving force

AP , TOKYO

Japan’s exports climbed sharply last month, as a solidifying global recovery fueled the world’s appetite for cars, machinery and gadgets.

Exports jumped 45.3 percent from a year earlier to ¥5.13 trillion (US$57 billion), marking the third straight month of year-on-year increase, the finance ministry said yesterday.

Car shipments surged 117 percent, while electronic machinery exports climbed 46 percent. General machinery rose 31.5 percent.

The figures confirm that government stimulus efforts around the globe have helped spur demand for Japanese products and are underpinning the country’s recovery, but it is Asia in particular that is driving the world’s second-biggest economy, which now sends more than half its exports to the rest of the booming continent.

Asia-bound exports jumped 56 percent from a year earlier to ¥2.78 trillion, the Ministry of Finance’s monthly report showed. The figure reflects an expected slowdown from January, when shipments soared 68 percent. The Lunar New Year holidays fell last month, effectively removing one business week.

Shipments to China, Japan’s single biggest trading partner, rose nearly 48 percent.

The data also showed encouraging numbers from the US, Japan’s second-biggest overseas market. Although exports to the US had been lackluster, they shot up 50 percent to ¥837 billion. Car shipments more than doubled and electrical machinery exports rose 38 percent.

The US outlook is unclear, however, as Toyota Motor Corp faces ongoing questions about its quality and credibility following a series of massive recalls.

“This export recovery was a long time in coming, but with auto recalls in the US still a concern, we will be watching whether this recovery momentum can be sustained,” said Yuriko Tanaka, an economist at Goldman Sachs in Tokyo.

Also clouding Japan’s prospects is a stagnant economy at home.

Exports to western Europe were up 20 percent and those to the Middle East rose 19 percent.

Imports climbed 29.5 percent to ¥4.48 trillion, resulting in a trade surplus of ¥651 billion.

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