Japan's Sept. exports fall for 1st time in nearly 2 years on typhoon

18, Oct. 2018

Japan's exports fell for the first time in nearly two years in September as production and distribution channels were disrupted by a powerful typhoon that tore through the area around Osaka, government data showed Thursday.

Exports dipped 1.2 percent from a year earlier to 6.73 trillion yen ($59.8 billion), the first decline since November 2016. The country's balance of goods trade with the rest of the world came in at a 139.6 billion yen surplus, the first black ink in three months but plunging 78.7 percent from a year earlier, according to a preliminary report by the Finance Ministry.

Typhoon Jebi, which caused a temporary shutdown of Kansai International Airport, may have played a part in the drop in exports, a ministry official said. Exports from Osaka's main global gateway plummeted 58.0 percent to 233.6 billion yen during the reporting month, according to Osaka customs.

Imports climbed 7.0 percent to 6.59 trillion yen on rising energy costs. Crude oil imports surged 37.9 percent to 722.8 billion despite falling in volume amid rising prices on global markets.

For the six months through September, goods trade logged a surplus of 222.0 billion yen, the sixth straight half-year period of black ink but a plunge of 88.1 percent from a year earlier. Exports rose 5.2 percent, while imports climbed 10.0 percent during the first half of fiscal 2018.

Koya Miyamae, an economist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., said the weak export figures would hamper growth in gross domestic product in the July-September quarter.

"We've also seen natural disasters cause a dip in spending by inbound tourists. (The softness in) overseas demand is likely to weigh down growth," he said.

In September alone, Japan had a goods trade surplus of 590.3 billion yen against the United States as exports of airplane engines, audio-visual equipment and motorcycles grew.

Against its largest trading partner, China, Japan registered a deficit of 370.2 billion yen as imports of mobile phones and clothing rose.

Japan had a 567.5 billion yen surplus against the whole of Asia as exports of automobile parts and chip-manufacturing equipment grew at a healthy clip.

With the European Union, Japan posted a 20.8 billion yen deficit amid a fall in automobile and ship exports.

The figures were compiled on a customs-cleared basis. (Kyodo)