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Japan Trade December 2023

Japan: Merchandise exports rise most in a year in December

Yen-denominated merchandise exports rose 9.8% on an annual basis in December (November: -0.2% year-on-year). December’s figure marked the best reading in a year and slightly exceeded market expectations; this backs our panelists’ assessment that real exports will rebound in Q4. Shipments to the U.S. rose at a double-digit pace, while those to China increased for the first time in 13 months. Meanwhile, yen-denominated merchandise imports fell 6.8% over the same month last year in December (November: -11.9% yoy), marking the strongest reading since April 2023.

As a result, the merchandise trade balance improved to a JPY 0.1 trillion surplus from the previous month’s JPY 0.8 trillion deficit in December (December 2022: JPY 1.5 trillion deficit).

Analysts at Nomura commented on the outlook for export growth in Q4:

“After adjusting for inflation and seasonality, we estimate that real exports rose by 8.0% m-m in December, turning upward after falling by 5.6% in November. In quarterly terms, real exports were up 0.5% q-q in Oct–Dec 2023. We forecast real exports of goods and services up 2.4% q-q in the Oct–Dec GDP statistics.”

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