Japan’s exports in September shrink for the first time since 2016

Total exports fell by 1.2% in September from a year ago, reversing from the 6.6% increase in August.

Japan’s exports fell for the first time in almost two years in September, as shipments to its major export trading partners China and the United States (US) fell.

Total exports fell by 1.2% in September from a year ago, reversing from the 6.6% increase in August, data from Japan’s Ministry of Finance showed. The decline was below the 1.9% rise economists in a Reuters poll had expected.

The previous fall in exports was in November 2016 when sluggish foreign demand had weighed on trade.

Exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner fell by 1.7% in the last month, making it the first decline in seven months, as shipments of semiconductor production equipments fell.

Exports to the US were lower by 0.2%, due to lesser shipments of construction and mining machinery, medicines, and automotive parts. Imports from the US rose by 3.1%, led by crude oil, and liquefied petroleum gas.

Shipments to South Korea shrank by 4.6% while for Asia as a whole (including China and South Korea), exports were higher by 0.9%.

US President Donald Trump has previously voiced his dissatisfaction with Japan’s US$69 billion trade surplus with the US, and have been pressuring for a two-way agreement to address the issue.

The US has been working on expanding its trade and investment front by negotiating separate trade agreements with Japan, the European Union, and the United Kingdom.

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