Japan shakes off doldrums, posts first trade surplus in nearly three years.
Remember when Japan was going to take over the world? No, not in the World War II “Tora, Tora, Tora” sense, but as the industrial giant and trading partner that in the ‘80s and ‘90s seemed to out-compete the U.S. at every turn.
Caught in a long deflationary spiral, Japan, while still the world’s third-largest economy, has struggled to regain its luster. Now, an index shows a hopeful sign, thanks to … logistics. Lower fuel costs “fueled” Japan’s first monthly trade surplus in nearly three years in March, as exports grew on the back of a weaker yen, led by robust U.S.-bound shipments, while imports tumbled due largely to lower oil prices.
Japan’s exports to the rest of the world rose for the seventh straight month in March on a year-on-year basis, climbing 8.5 percent to ¥6.927 trillion ($58 billion), according to preliminary trade figures released by the Japanese Finance Ministry on April 22. The relatively strong rise in Japan’s overall exports was led by autos, semiconductors and other electronic parts, and metal processing machinery.
Japan’s imports from the rest of the world fell for the third consecutive month in March on a year-on-year basis, plunging 14.5 percent to nearly ¥6.7 trillion. The sharp decline in Japan’s overall imports was led by crude oil, petroleum products and liquefied natural gas, giving Japan its first trade surplus in 33 months.
Japan is heavily dependent on exports for growth. China is Japan’s largest trading partner, followed by the U.S. And Japan’s imports from the U.S. grew for the second month in a row in March on a year-on-year basis, surging almost 24 percent.
With growth in China slowing, the fastest-growing major economy in the world is now India. All of which goes to point out that the only constant is change, and you need to have your finger on its pulse, in logistics and everything else.