Japan’s exports tumble as U.S. demand slumps

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A worker walks between shipping containers at a port in Tokyo Photo: REUTERS file

By Tetsushi Kajimoto and Leika Kihara –  Japan Today

Japan’s exports extended their double-digit slump into a fifth straight month in July as the coronavirus pandemic took a heavy toll on shipments to the United States, dashing hopes for a trade-led recovery from the deep recession.

Core machinery orders, a leading indicator of business spending, also fell, suggesting the economy cannot count on domestic demand either as business investment weakened.

The batch of weak data underscored the challenges for policymakers as they look to prop up economic activity after lockdowns were lifted in May, while containing a second round of infections.

Total exports fell 19.2% in July from a year earlier, compared with economists’ median forecast for a 21.0% decrease, government data showed on Wednesday. It followed a 26.2% drop in the previous month.

By region, shipments to the United States – Japan’s key market – declined 19.5% in the year to July.

Exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner, rose 8.2% in the year to July, while those to the rest of Asia were down 8.2%, the data showed.

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