Japan Trade Balance Swings to Deficit in September

Japan unexpectedly posted a trade deficit of JPY 123 billion deficit in September 2019, shifting from a JPY 124.1 billion surplus in the same month a year earlier and missing market expectations of a JPY 54 billion surplus. This was the third straight month of shortfall, as exports slumped 5.2 percent, falling for the tenth month in a row, while imports decreased at a softer 1.5 percent, the fifth consecutive month of drop.
Ministry of Finance, Japan l Chusnul Ch Manan | chusnul@tradingeconomics.com 10/21/2019 9:10:01 AM
Exports fell 5.2 percent from a year earlier to JPY 6.37 trillion in September, compared to market forecasts of a 4.0 percent decline and August's 8.2 percent decrease. It was the tenth straight month of declines in shipments, amid weakening global demand and the US-China trade dispute.
Lower sales were recorded in transport equipment (-2.7 percent), mainly due to motor vehicles (-1.8 percent), cars (-1.9 percent), parts of motor vehicles (-14.7 percent), and motorcycles & autocycles (-10.3 percent); machinery (-11.2 percent), namely metal working machinery (-17.9 percent),  power generating machines (-13.1 percent), computers and units (-11.9 percent), and parts of computer (-13.3 percent); electrical machinery (-4.7 percent), in particular audio & visual apparatus (-11.9 percent), video recorder or repro apparatus (-14.8 percent), parts of video, visual apparatus (-15.1 percent), telephony, telegraphy (-27.3 percent) and electrical measuring (-6.8 percent), electrical apparatus (-12.8 percent), and batteries and accumulators (-3.5 percent) .
Also, sales dropped for manufactured goods (-3.8 percent), of which iron & steel products (-0.4 percent), non-ferrous metals (-2.7 percent) manufactures of metals (-9.0 percent), rubber (-5.7 percent), non-metallic mineral ware (-6.3 percent), paper & paper manufactured (-14.5 percent), and textile yarn fabrics (-1.1 percent); chemicals (-2.1 percent), including organic chemicals (-7.3 percent); and mineral fuels (-16.9 percent).

Among main trade partners, exports went down to China (-6.7 percent), South Korea (-15.9 percent), Hong Kong (-10.3 percent), Singapore (-11.4 percent), Thailand (-14.4 percent), the US (-7.9 percent) and Australia (-8.4 percent), but rose to the Middle East (8.5 percent), in particular the UAE (11.4 percent), Saudi Arabia (29.2 percent) and Western Europe (3.4 percent), mostly Switzerland (156.8 percent). 

Imports dropped 1.5 percent to JPY 6.49 trillion, the fifth consecutive month of decline, compared to expectations of a 2.8 percent fall and after a downwardly revised 11.9 percent tumble in the previous month. Purchases of mineral fuels slipped 19.0 percent, in particular petroleum (-16.1 percent), petroleum products (-35.5 percent), LNG (-11.7 percent), LPG (-43.8 percent), and coal (-19.8 percent). In addition, imports went down for manufactured goods (-1.4 percent), namely iron & steel products (-7 percent), nonferrous metals (-9.7 percent), and wood & cork manufactured (-6.6 percent). Also, imports dropped for transport equipment (-1.3 percent), of which motor vehicles (-3.1 percent) and parts of motor vehicles (-7.6 percent).

By contrast, purchases rose for: electrical machinery (3.9 percent), namely semiconductors (5.9 percent) and IC (6.2 percent); machinery (1.1 percent), of which power generating machines (0.3 percent), computers and units (19.8 percent), and parts of computer (28.0 percent); foodstuff (5.1 percent), namely meat (9.3 percent), cereals (2.6 percent) and vegetables (2.7 percent). Also, acquisitions increased for chemicals (9.0 percent), due to medical products (44.2 percent); and raw materials (2.9 percent), mainly iron ore and concentrates (24.4 percent).

Imports dropped from China (-1.0 percent), Hong Kong (-4.8 percent), South Korea (-8.9 percent), the US (-11.6 percent), and the Middle East (-13.6 percent), namely Saudi Arabia (-21.9 percent) and Oman (-26.8 percent). Conversely, imports went up from Taiwan (9.0 percent, Thailand (11.4 percent) and Western Europe (12.4 percent), mainly Germany (9.8 percent) and the UK (13.3 percent).

Japan Trade Balance Swings to Deficit in September