Japan stated that September had a 4.3% increase in exports compared to the same month last year and a 16.3% decrease in imports, leaving a positive balance of 62.4 trillion yen ($410 billion), and the first trade surplus in three months.
TOKYO — According to government data released on Thursday, Japan’s exports increased 4.3% in September compared to the same month last year as shipments of cars, machinery, and electronics increased while oil and gas imports declined significantly.
According to preliminary customs statistics issued Thursday, exports reached 9.2 trillion yen ($61 billion) in September while imports decreased 16.3% from the prior year to 10.9 trillion yen ($72 billion).
This resulted in a positive balance of 62.4 trillion yen ($410 billion), the first trade surplus for the month in the previous three.
Export growth in September was better than analysts had predicted and was the largest increase since March. The numbers indicate that despite weakening global demand, Japan’s crucial manufacturing sector is still very active.
The decline in imports, according to economists, was primarily caused by base effects from the prior year.
From April to September of Japan’s exports fiscal year, exports increased by just 1.4% over the same period in the previous year to a record 50.2 trillion yen ($330 billion), but the trade deficit decreased by 75% to 2.7 trillion yen ($18 billion).
The previous six months have seen a decline in trade with the rest of Asia, with Japan’s exports to China suffering as a result of a decline in computer chip and semiconductor manufacturing equipment exports.
According to a report from ING Economics, “the global electronics downturn seems to be continuing with semiconductor equipment down 14.5%, contributing to a decline in exports to China, the biggest destination for IT products.”
Strong sales of automobiles and auto parts, which increased by over 24%, were a major factor in the increase in shipments to the U.S. and Europe. Electrical equipment exports increased 17%, and machinery exports increased 18%.
Between April and September of last year, Japan imported 28% less oil, nearly 38% less liquefied natural gas, and 37% less coal.