Japan registers first trade deficit in three years

Japan registered its first trade deficit in three years in 2018, as exports to its largest trading partner, China, fell amid economic uncertainties stemming from the U.S.-China trade dispute.

Japan registered its first trade deficit in three years last year, according to Tokyo’s finance ministry. File Photo by Franck Robichon
Japan registered its first trade deficit in three years last year, according to Tokyo’s finance ministry. File Photo by Franck Robichon

Japan’s trade deficit stood at $11 billion, as exports to China fell and prices of energy imports escalated, Kyodo News reported Wednesday. Imports rose 9.7 percent from 2017, to more than $755 billion, exceeding total exports, or $745 billion.
Japan was hit hard in December, when exports saw their biggest decrease since October 2016. Lower demand for Japanese tech devices from Chinese manufacturers of mobile phones, semiconductors and liquid crystal displays has followed the tariff war between Beijing and Washington.

Nidec Corp., an electric motors manufacturer in Japan, said the lowered demand is a result of trade tensions between the two of the world’s largest economies.
Japan has managed to maintain a $50 billion trade surplus with the United States, however.

Business executives in Asia continue to voice strong concern about the impact of the bilateral trade war on the regional economy, following warnings from the International Monetary Fund the global economy is weakening at a “faster than expected rate” owing to collapsed trade deals.

The South China Morning Post reported Wednesday foreign executives based in Taiwan said the trade war and U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America first” policies are adding to the risks.
“Only 45.8 percent of those surveyed said they were very or somewhat confident about the economic outlook for 2019 — a 10 percentage point drop from the year before,” an annual Business Climate Survey from the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei said.

Businesses based in Taiwan have vested interests in both the United States and China, the chamber’s chairman said.

ByElizabeth Shim