Earthquake and tsunami shatter Japan’s exports

 
Julian Harris
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THE HORRIFIC earthquake and tsunami in Japan last month knocked the country’s exports more than expected, official data revealed yesterday.

Disruptions to supply chains saw exports drop 2.2 per cent from a year earlier, a heavier fall than the 1.1 per cent to 1.5 per cent decline anticipated by many economists. It was also the first decline in exports for 16 months.

The decline reduced Japan’s trade surplus, which came in at 196.5bn yen (£1.45bn) – its lowest level in two years.

“The seasonally-adjusted fall was much starker,” said David Rea of Capital Economics. “Export trade values plummeted 7.7 per cent month on month, the steepest drop since the global financial crisis caused three double-digit month on month declines in a row.”

Shipments to China rose an annual 3.8 per cent while shipments to the US fell 3.4 per cent.

“The pace of fall in exports will likely accelerate in April as automakers’ production lines have not returned to normal,” said Yoshimasa Maruyama, economist at the Itochu Economic Research Institute in Tokyo.

“On the other hand, imports will probably stay at a higher level in coming months as energy imports increase in both volume terms and value due to price increases. Imports of goods needed for production and reconstruction are also seen rising,” Maruyama added.