Japan's exports see steepest drop in 10 years in April as global pandemic takes toll




Japan's exports logged the steepest drop in April in more than 10 years as the coronavirus pandemic saw overseas demand slump amid global business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, the government said in a report Thursday.


According to the Finance Ministry, exports in the recording period plummeted 21.9 percent from a year earlier to 5.20 trillion yen (48.24 billion U.S. dollars), marking the 17th straight month of decline.


The decline marked the steepest drop since a 23.2-percent dive booked in October 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis, the ministry's data showed.


Imports, meanwhile, dropped 7.2 percent to 6.13 trillion yen, marking the 12th straight month of decline, owing to slumping purchases of crude oil and coal among other energy resources, according to the ministry's preliminary report.


Japan's goods trade deficit stood at 930.40 billion yen in the recording period, with the figure turning negative for the first time in three months, the latest data set also showed.


Exports to the United States fell 37.8 percent to 879.80 billion yen, owing to falling demand for cars and aircraft engines, the ministry said, adding that imports form the United States rose 1.6 percent to 698.63 billion yen, leading to a 181.17 billion yen deficit in the recording period.


Exports to China, Japan's largest trading partner, fell 4.1 percent to 1.18 trillion yen, in the recording period, marking the fourth straight month of decline, the ministry said.


Imports from China, however, increased 11.7 percent to 1.73 trillion yen, leading to a trade deficit of 552.60 billion yen, the latest figures showed.


For the whole of Asia, including China, exports were down 11.4 percent, while imports rose 2.2 percent, with the deficit standing at 27.04 billion yen in April on year, the ministry said.


Exports to the European Union, meanwhile, tumbled 28.0 percent in April to 483.51 billion yen, while imports from the single currency bloc fell 6.8 percent to 674.68 billion yen, resulting in a deficit of 191.18 billion yen, the Finance Ministry said.


"Of course, we don't think the virus pandemic is coming to an end, so it is possible that the negative effect will continue in May," a finance ministry official was quoted as telling a press briefing on the matter. (1 U.S. dollar equals 107.77 yen).

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