Japan export growth stalls on trade-war risks

By BLOOMBERG

TOKYO • Japan’s export growth slowed again in November, with shipments eking out a tiny gain, as weakening demand in China and trade-war risks cloud the outlook.

The value of exports rose 0.1% from a year earlier, broadly in line with a median forecast for a 1.2% gain, according to the Finance Ministry. With the exception of a decline shipments in September, that was the slowest growth in two years.

Japan’s export-dependent economy faces a challenge as growth slows in China, its largest trading partner. Shipments to China rose only 0.4% in November, putting the three-month average at 2.6%. Export volumes to China fell 5.8%.

The effects of Beijing’s deleveraging policies on domestic demand are probably having a big impact, said Mari Iwashita, chief market economist at Daiwa Securities Co.

Next year could be even more difficult for Japan. In addition to possible fallout from the US-China trade war, the threat of US car tariffs still looms and Tokyo officials are set to begin negotiating a trade deal with their US counterparts. As a counterweight, the Japan-led Trans- Pacific Partnership agreement kicks off at the end of this year and Japan’s pact with Europe may take effect in February.

Imports rose 12.5%, compared to the 11.8% median forecast of economists, mostly due to higher oil prices, the ministry said. Export volumes fell 1.9%, the second decline in three months.