Japan Trade Surplus Narrows Sharply

Japan posted a trade surplus of JPY 60 billion in April 2019 compared with a JPY 621 billion surplus in the same month a year earlier and market expectations of a JPY 203 billion surplus. Exports declined for a fifth straight month while imports gained steam.

Exports declined 2.4 percent from a year earlier to JPY 6.66 trillion, compared to market consensus of a 1.8 percent drop and after a similar 2.4 percent fall in March. It was the fifth straight month of falls in shipments, amid weakening global demand and the US-China trade dispute. Shipments were mainly dragged down by electrical machinery (-4.6 percent), namely semiconductors (-5.7 percent); machinery (-4.1 percent), including power generating machines (-3.5 percent) and semicon machinery (-15.1 percent); transport equipment (-2.8 percent) and manufactured goods (-0.7 percent), of which iron and steel products (-2.5 percent) and nonferrous metals (-7.1 percent). In contrast, exports rose for foodstuffs (6.1 percent); mineral fuels (12.1 percent) and chemicals (9.1 percent).

Among main trade partners, exports shrank to China (-6.3 percent), South Korea (-4.2 percent), Australia (-15.2 percent) and Indonesia (-2.7 percent). In contrast, shipments rose to the US (9.6 percent), Malaysia (1.4 percent), Thailand (1.4 percent) and Vietnam (10.4 percent).

Imports rose 6.4 percent to JPY 6.60 trillion, above market expectations of a 4.8 percent increase and following a 1.2 percent rise in the previous month. Purchases were mainly nudged by growth in imports of transport equipment (15.1 percent), essentially aircraft (55.3 percent); foodstuff (11.8 percent); raw materials (7.5 percent), mostly iron ore & concentrates (25.2 percent) and mineral fuels (7.0 percent), namely oil (13.8 percent), LNG (5.8 percent) and coal (5.9 percent).

Among main trade partners, purchases rose from China (5.9 percent), Australia (5.1 percent) and the US (2.3 percent).

Japan Trade Surplus Narrows Sharply

Ministry of Finance l Mario | mario@tradingeconomics.com
5/22/2019 11:03:50 AM