Japan Trade Balance Swings to Deficit in August

Japan posted a trade deficit of JPY 444.6 billion in August of 2018, compared to a JPY 96.8 billion surplus in the same month a year ago and slightly below market expectations of a JPY 468.7 billion gap. Imports jumped 15.4 percent and exports increased at a softer 6.6 percent.
Ministry of Finance | Rida | rida@tradingeconomics.com 9/19/2018 10:47:26 AM
Imports climbed 15.4 percent from a year earlier to JPY 7.1 trillion in August, beating market consensus of a 14.9 percent growth and following a 14.6 percent increase in July. Purchases of mineral fuels surged 46.3 percent, boosted by petroleum (59.6 percent), LNG (28.6 percent) and coal (35.3 percent); and those of electrical machinery went up 7 percent, driven by telephony, telegraphy (25.5 percent) and audio and visual apparatus (11.3 percent). In addition, imports increased for: machinery (12.9 percent), led by power generating machine (12.3 percent) and computers and units (9.9 percent); chemicals (5.2 percent), namely medical products (6.4 percent); manufactured goods (6.7 percent), of which non-ferrous metals (14.3 percent) and manufactures of metals (9 percent); and others (4.6 percent), of which clothing and accessories (5.1 percent), and scientific, optical instruments (2.6 percent).

Among major trading partners, imports rose from Asia (7.1 percent), mainly from China (5.9 percent), South Korea (6.5 percent), Taiwan (1.6 percent), Thailand (6.6 percent) Indonesia (18.7 percent) and Vietnam (17.1 percent). Also, imports grew from the EU (6.5 percent), mainly from the UK (41 percent), the Netherlands (33.5 percent), Italy (3.5 percent) and France (3.5 percent); the US (21.5 percent); Australia (24.2 percent); and the Middle East (56.4 percent), mainly from the UAE (74 percent), Saudi Arabia (43.8 percent) and Qatar (69.8 percent).

Exports increased at a softer 6.6 percent to JPY 6.7 trillion in August, beating expectations of a 5.6 percent gain and following a 3.9 percent growth a month earlier. Sales of transport equipment advanced 8.4 percent, led by cars (5.6 percent), and those of machinery went up 9.8 percent, boosted by semicon machinery etc (34.3 percent) and power generating machine (16.8 percent). Also, exports rose for electrical machinery (5.6 percent), of which semiconductors (4.2 percent) and IC (4.4 percent); manufactured goods (10.5 percent), namely iron and steel products (13.4 percent) and non-ferrous metals (13.7 percent); and chemicals (15.1 percent), of which plastic materials (5.4 percent) and organic chemicals (7.8 percent). On the other hand, exports of others declined by 8.4 percent, due to sales of scientific, optical instruments (-2.4 percent).

Sales to Asia rose 6.8 percent, mainly to China (12.1 percent), Taiwan (11.4 percent), Thailand (9.4 percent), Vietnam (18 percent) and Indonesia (16.8 percent), while those to South Korea (-3.1 percent) and Singapore (-16.4 percent) fell. In addition, outbound shipments increased to the EU (7.1 percent), mainly to Germany (10.8 percent) and the UK (2 percent); and the US (5.3 percent).

Considering January to August, Japan recorded a trade gap of JPY 73.8 billion, compared to a surplus of JPY 1.5 trillion in the same period the preceding year. 

Japan Trade Balance Swings to Deficit in August