Japan’s export growth slows as global downturn risks loom
TOKYO – Japanese exports grew for a second straight month in October but at a sharply slower pace due to slumping China-bound shipments of chips and steel, as weakening external demand takes its toll on the trade-reliant economy.
Weak exports have complicated Japan’s efforts to spur economic growth as sluggish domestic demand weighs on the post-pandemic recovery.
With the absence of growth drivers, some economists warn Japan could fall into a technical recession, defined as two straight quarters of contraction.
Japan’s economy fell in July-September, snapping two straight quarters of expansion on soft consumption and exports, data showed on Wednesday.
Exports rose 1.6 percent in October from a year earlier, Ministry of Finance data showed on Thursday.
That was faster than a 1.2-percent increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll, but slower than the 4.3 percent rise in September.
By destination, exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner, fell 4 percent year-on-year in October, posting 11 straight months of declines.
Exports to the United States, Japan’s key ally, rose 8.4 percent in the year to October, as demand for hybrid vehicles and mining and construction machinery helped drive the value of U.S.-bound shipments to its largest on record.
Imports fell 12.5 percent in the year to October, versus the median estimate for a 12.2- percent decrease.
The trade balance came to a deficit of 662.5 billion yen ($4.38 billion), versus the median estimate for a 735.7 billion yen deficit.