Japan Trade Balance Swings to Surplus in February

Japan posted a trade surplus of JPY 339 billion in February 2019, compared with a JPY 14 billion deficit in the same month a year earlier and market expectations of a JPY 310 billion surplus.

Exports declined 1.2 percent from a year earlier to JPY 6.38 trillion in February, worse than market consensus of a 0.9 percent drop and after an 8.4 percent plunge in January. It was the third straight month of falls in shipments, amid weakening global demand and the US-China trade dispute. Exports fell for: transport equipment (-3.1 percent), in particular cars (-6.1 percent) and parts of motor vehicles (-5 percent); electrical machinery (-5.6 percent), such as semiconductors (-10.7 percent), electrical apparatus (-8 percent) and telephony, telegraphy (-18.6 percent); and manufactured goods, namely iron and steel (-13.8 percent) and nonferrous metals (-10 percent). By contrast, sales of chemicals rose 4.6 percent and those of machinery increased 1.7 percent, due mainly to power generating machine (5.6 percent) and semicon machinery (0.3 percent).

Among major trade partners, exports declined to South Korea (-13.8 percent), Singapore (-18.2 percent), Thailand (-2.7 percent), Australia (-13.3 percent), Germany (-1.5 percent) and the Middle East (-9.9 percent), but rose to China (5.5 percent), Hong Kong (2.3 percent), Taiwan (0.3 percent), the US (2 percent) and the Middle South America (8.4 percent).

Imports slumped 6.7 percent to JPY 6.05 trillion, far more than market expectations of a 5.8 percent fall and following a revised 0.8 percent decline in the previous month. It was the biggest drop since November 2016, as purchases of mineral fuels plunged 6.3 percent on petroleum (-11.2 percent), petroleum products (-27.9 percent) and coal (-2.3 percent). Imports also fell for: electrical machinery (-4.3 percent), of which telephony, telegraphy (-1.9 percent) and semiconductors (-6 percent); machinery (-6.2 percent), particularly power generating machine (-12.1 percent) and computers and units (-0.2 percent); chemicals (-9.3 percent); manufactured goods (-7.8 percent), namely nonferrous metals (-12.2 percent) and manufactures of metals (-11 percent); foodstuff (-5.5 percent); raw materials (-11 percent); and others (-9.5 percent), such as clothing and accessories (-13.1 percent) and scientific, optical inst (-8 percent).

Imports dropped from China (-15.8 percent), South Korea (-10.7 percent), Taiwan (-4.4 percent), Indonesia (-14.3 percent), Australia (-5.5 percent), Saudi Arabia (-18.7 percent), but grew from Thailand (9.8 percent), the US (4.9 percent), Germany (1 percent) and the UAE (1.4 percent).

Japan Trade Balance Swings to Surplus in February

Ministry of Finance | Joana Ferreira | joana.ferreira@tradingeconomics.com
3/18/2019 1:04:20 AM