Japanese exports fell in September for the first time since November 2016, due to drop-in shipments to the United States and China, which added to concerns about the growing impact of a trade war between Washington and Beijing.
The data is known days after a Reuters poll showed that a third of Japanese companies have been affected by the trade dispute between the two largest economies in the world and that companies are worried about a slowdown in Chinese demand.
Bank of Japan (BoJ) authorities are also concerned about the general impact of international trade tensions.
A powerful typhoon that hit Japan last month added to factory pressures, disrupting production and physical distribution.
Last week, data from the Ministry of Finance showed that Japanese exports fell 1.2% year-on-year in September, compared to the increase of 1.9% estimated by economists in a Reuters poll and after an increase of 6.6 % seen in August.
“The continued weakness of exports in September suggests that economic activity may have stalled in the third quarter,” Marcel Thieliant, senior economist for Japan at Capital Economics, said in a note to clients.
Japan’s exports to the United States fell by 0.2% in the year to September, weighed down by lower shipments of construction machinery and mining, auto parts and medicines.
Imports from the United States grew by 3.1%, led by crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas, which helped reduce Tokyo’s trade surplus with Washington by 4.0% year-on-year to US $ 5.24 billion.
Exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner, fell 1.7%in the year to September, its first decline in seven months, pressured by semiconductor production equipment.
Shipments to Asia, which accounts for more than half of Japan’s exports, grew by 0.9%.
In general, imports increased by 7.0% in the year to September, compared to the average estimate of an annual increase of 13.7%.
The trade balance showed a surplus of US $ 1.242 billion, which compares with the median estimate of a deficit of US $ 445 million.