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Japan's exports, imports surge: Good sign for Asia

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Exports raising industrial production in Japan despite slow domestic economy but new fears that Trump might target Japan as well as China are also present.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Japan's exports, imports surge: Good sign for Asia

20/04/2017
Associated Press News agency

TOKYO - Exports rose at a faster-than- expected 12% pace in March, while imports jumped nearly 16% from a year earlier, the government said on Thursday.

The data suggest relatively strong foreign demand could lift growth for the world's No.3 economy in this quarter, economists said.

EXPORTS LIFTING INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION IN JAPAN

While domestic demand inside Japan has remained lackluster, exports have lifted industrial production in recent months.

Japan posted its first trade surplus in six years in 2016 thanks to a rebound in exports late in the year,

Uncertainties over US policy under US President Donald Trump and over China's economic recovery persist, however.

The 7.23 trillion yen (US$66 billion) in exports and 6.61 trillion yen ($60 billion) in imports resulted in a trade surplus of 614.7 billion yen ($5.6 billion), down 17.5% from a year before.

REVIVAL OF DEMAND IN CHINA

A revival of demand in China helped push exports up 16.4% from the year before to 1.3 trillion yen ($11 billion). But the increase was exaggerated by the timing of lunar new year holidays, which varies from year to year.

Exports to the US climbed 3.5% to 1.35 trillion yen ($12 billion), while imports jumped 16.3% to 725 billion yen ($6.7 billion), leaving a surplus of 628.1 billion yen ($5.8 billion).

TRUMP HAS COMPLAINED OF JAPAN'S TRADE SURPLUS 

Although Trump has complained about Japan's perennial trade surplus, the two sides downplayed tensions over such issues during a visit by Vice President Mike Pence earlier this week.

Concerns about possible protectionist trade policies implemented by U.S. President Donald Trump cloud the outlook for Japan's trade.

Trump could take a tougher stance on trade with China and this could lead to criticism of Japan's exports also.

HIGHER OIL PRICES EXPLAIN INCREASE IN IMPORT VALUE

Resource scarce Japan relies on imports of oil and gas, mostly from the Middle East, to light its cities and power its factories.

Higher oil prices boosted imports from Middle Eastern countries by more than 45%, including a 75% jump in imports from Saudi Arabia.

In fact, prices accounted for a large share, 12.5% year-on-year, of the increase in imports, said Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics.

Export prices rose only by 3.7%, while export volumes were up 6.6%, he said.

Vehicle exports rose 4%, while exports of electrical machinery were up 11%. Exports of other machinery jumped 14 percent.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/world/1235291/japans-exports-imports-surge

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-economy-trade-idUSKBN17M00F

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