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Japan Trade May 2023

Japan: Merchandise exports rise at a slower rate in May

Yen-denominated merchandise exports increased 0.6% in annual terms in May, following April’s 2.6% rise. May’s figure marked the softest expansion since February 2021. Meanwhile, merchandise imports contracted 9.9% in annual terms in May (April: -2.3% yoy), marking the weakest result since December 2020.

As a result, the merchandise trade deficit worsened to JPY 1.4 trillion in May from the previous month’s JPY 0.4 trillion.

After adjusting for seasonality, Nomura estimates that merchandise exports fell 4.1% month on month in real terms in May. This means real exports in April–May were 1.8% higher than in January–March, suggesting that they are only recovering weakly after contracting 3.2% in the first quarter. For the June print, all eyes will be on the economic recovery of Japan’s top trading partner, China; economic data for that country disappointed in April and May.

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