Japan’s exports extend growth streak to 19 months

By BLOOMBERG

TOKYO • Japanese exports increased for a 19th straight month in June despite rising tensions in international trade.

The value of exports rose 6.7% in June from a year earlier (forecast 7%), according to data from the Finance Ministry. Imports increased 2.5% (forecast 5.3%).

The trade balance was a ¥721.4 billion surplus (RM26.01 billion) compared to a forecast of ¥531.2 billion.

Japanese exports have been key to the country’s economic recovery in recent years, although the size of gains has come down from the double-digit figures seen through much of 2017. While there’s a threat of tariffs on car and auto-part shipments to the US, the nation is forging ahead with trade deals in other important markets and this week signed a pact that will eliminate European Union (EU) tariffs on vehicles from Japan.

Imports were likely to drop off a bit in June after a large amount of inbound shipments of aircraft in May, SMBC Nikko’s Koya Miyamae, Rina Adachi and Yoshimasa Maruyama wrote in a note before the release. There’s a high chance that real exports grew in the second quarter, and external demand will help lift economic growth over that period, they wrote.

The country’s adjusted trade balance showed a surplus of ¥66.2 billion (forecast ¥155 billion).

Exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner, rose 11.1% in June from a year earlier.

Those to the US slipped 0.9%. Shipments to the EU increased 9.3%.