Japanese Exports Fell 11.7% In March
In March 2020, Japanese exports declined at the fastest pace since July 2016, amid weakening economic activity around the world. According to the Ministry of Finance, the indicator fell by 11.7% on an annual basis, to 6.36 trillion yen ($59 billion).
Analysts on average predicted a decline of 10.1%, according to data from Trading Economics.
The decline in Japanese exports was noted for the 16th consecutive month. Sales of transport equipment abroad fell by 18.2%, including passenger cars - by 13.9%, and machine-building equipment-by 17.9%.
Exports to the United States in March fell by 16.5%, the highest rate since April 2011, to China-by 8.7%, to Hong Kong-by 14.2%, to South Korea - by 10.4%, to Russia - by 24.9%.
Japanese imports fell by 5% last month, to 6.35 trillion yen, while economists had expected a 9.8% drop. Imports have declined for 11 consecutive months.
In March, Japan reduced fuel purchases by 11.6%, including hydrocarbons by 8.3% and LNG by 13.5%. Imports of clothing and accessories decreased by 4.6%, and computer equipment-by 9.3%.
Shipments to Japan from China in March fell by 4.5%, imports from Hong Kong collapsed by 84.3%, from South Korea-fell by 4.7%, from Germany-by 19%, from the UK-by 17.7%, from Russia-by 15%. At the same time, Japan increased imports from the US by 1.3%, and from the UAE - by 24.9%.
In February, Japanese exports decreased by 1% and imports by 14%.
Japan's trade surplus in March was 4.95 billion yen, compared with 522.7 billion yen a year earlier.
Experts note that the March data on foreign trade probably does not fully reflect the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic since in some regions lockdowns began only at the end of March.
"Both exports and imports are likely to continue to decline in April and beyond, as many businesses are suspended due to coronavirus, with a significant weakening in global manufacturing activity overall," Takeshi Okuwaki, an analyst at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, told MarketWatch.