Japan Trade Balance


Exports expand amid stronger demand from China and the U.S.

Exports are recovering amid stronger overseas demand from both advanced and developing economies. In December, exports expanded 13.0% year-on-year in nominal terms, driving exports to JPY 6.1 trillion (USD 73.3 billion), the highest level since October 2008. Furthermore, the figure beat market expectations that exports would rise 9.2%. The robust pace of expansion was underpinned by strong sales to China (+20.1% year-on-year), in particular of machinery and equipment. Moreover, shipments to the United States also picked up, recording an above-average 16.5% expansion amid strong sales of motor vehicles. Consequently, exports were led by shipments of industrial machinery, which rose a robust 29.3%, whereas exports of transport equipment grew a more moderate 13.5%. In contrast, imports slowed from a 14.2% expansion in November to a 10.6% increase in December. As a result, the trade surplus widened from JPY 161 billion (USD 2.0 billion) in November to JPY 727 billion (USD 8.7 billion). Despite the vigorous recovery observed in recent months, exports remain below pre-crisis levels, with the 3-month average at JPY 5.8 trillion in December, which is well below the JPY 7.4 trillion peak reached in December 2007.


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