Exports declined 2.4 percent from a year earlier to JPY 7.20 trillion, compared to market consensus of a 2.7 percent drop and after a 1.2 percent fall in February. It was the fourth straight month of falls in shipments, amid weakening global demand and the US-China trade dispute. Shipments fell sharply for: machinery (-5.4 percent), namely textile machines (-22.6 percent) and metalworking machinery (-16.9 percent); manufactured goods (-6.8 percent) such as iron & steel products (-9.6 percent) and nonferrous metals (-12.9 percent); electrical machinery (-5.2 percent), including semiconductors (-7.6 percent) and others (-4.3 percent). In contrast, overseas sales rose for transport equipment (2.4 percent), namely cars (1.5 percent), ships (54.6 percent) and aircraft (10.7 percent); and chemicals (0.6 percent).
Among main trade partners, exports decreased to China (-9.4 percent), South Korea (-9.0 percent), Australia (-24.1 percent), Malaysia (-13.7 percent), and Indonesia (-13.8 percent). In contrast, exports to the United States rose 4.4 percent.
Imports rose 1.1 percent from a year earlier to JPY 6.67 trillion, below market expectations of a 2.6 percent increase and following a 6.7 percent drop in the previous month. Purchases advanced primarily for electrical machinery (5 percent); others (8 percent), of which clothing & accessories (15 percent); chemicals (2.4 percent); manufactured goods (5.7 percent); foodstuff (2 percent) and transport equipment (0.4 percent). In contrast, imports declined for mineral fuels (-4 percent); raw materials (-5.2 percent) and machinery (-2.5 percent).
Among main trade partners, purchases from Australia surged 22.3 percent and from China 10.9 percent. In contrast, imports from the United States edged down 0.2 percent.