Japan Trade March 2019


Japan: Trade surplus declines in March on strong imports

April 17, 2019

Nominal yen-denominated merchandise exports fell 2.4% year-on-year in March, following the 1.2% decrease in February. The contraction was smaller than the 2.7% drop that market analysts had expected. The contraction mostly reflected weak global demand, especially from China.

Meanwhile, imports expanded 1.1% in annual terms in March, contrasting the 6.6% decline in February. The result came in below the 2.6% increase expected by market analysts.

As a result of the sharp rebound in imports, the merchandise trade surplus fell from JPY 0.8 trillion in March 2018 to JPY 0.5 trillion in March 2019 (February 2019: JPY 0.3 trillion surplus). Meanwhile, the 12-month trailing trade deficit rose from JPY 1.3 trillion in February to JPY 1.6 trillion in March.

Our panelists forecast that exports will expand 2.8% in 2019 and imports will rise 1.2%, bringing the trade surplus to USD 1.6 billion. In 2020, FocusEconomics panelists expect exports will expand 4.7%, while imports will rise 5.3%, bringing down the trade balance to a USD 2.7 billion deficit.

Author: Ricard Torné, Lead Economist

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Japan Trade Chart

Japan Trade12m March 2019

Note: 12-month sum of trade balance in USD billion and annual variation of the 12-month sum of exports and imports in %.
Source: Ministry of Finance and FocusEconomics calculations.

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