Japan’s trade surplus with Asia plummets

Agence France Presse

Tokyo, June 22:

Japan’s trade surplus with Asia in May plunged 40.2 per cent from a year earlier as its deficit with China more than doubled on decreased exports, the finance ministry said on Wednesday.

The trade surplus with Asia came to 354.7 billion yen ($3.3 billion). Asia-bound exports, which account for about a half of Japan’s total shipments, rose 1.5 per cent while imports gained a larger 15.8 per cent.

In April the trade surplus with Asia had narrowed 5.3 per cent to 629.74 billion yen, with exports rising 7.3 per cent and imports up 11.9 per cent. With China alone, Japan’s trade deficit in May expanded 120.5 per cent to 265.2 billion yen.

Exports to China fell 0.1 per cent to mark the first drop in three months, hit by a 52.2 per cent plunge in automobile exports and a 14.8 per cent fall in electronic parts. Imports from China grew 18.9 per cent on a 10.8 per cent rise in clothing and a 23.7 per cent climb in audio-video equipment and its parts.

“Export growth is slowing in Asia,” said Toshio Sumitani, economist at Tokai Tokyo Research Center. “Slack foreign demand from China or US will likely affect the Japanese economy,” he said but added that there was no risk of falling back into recession.

It was not immediately known whether anti-Japanese sentiment in China dented Japanese exports in May, Sumitani said.

Japan’s trade with the ASEAN countries turned into a deficit of 31.9 billion yen in May from a surplus of 37.1 billion yen a year earlier, its first deficit since January.