Japan exports slow as supply chain hiccups hit factories

Tokyo, Sept. 16 (BNA): Japan’s exports rose 26% in August from a year earlier, preliminary data released Thursday showed, less than analysts’ expectations, as supply chain disruptions affected manufacturers.

Exports came to 6.6 trillion yen ($60 billion), compared to 5.2 trillion yen a year earlier, when the economy was just beginning to recover from the initial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Associated Press reported.

Analysts expected an increase of more than 30%. Exports rose 37% year over year in July.

Figures showed the world’s third-largest economy posted a trade deficit of 635 billion yen ($5.8 billion), as imports rose nearly 45% to 7.24 trillion yen ($66 billion), driven largely by oil, gas and coal imports.

Tokyo and some other regions remain in a state of emergency due to the outbreak caused in large part by the delta variant of COVID-19. Marcel Thilliant of Capital Economics said the strong rise in imports indicates that consumer demand has remained relatively strong.

However, he said in an analysis, “Foreign trade data indicate that net exports may be about 0.3 percentage points lower than third-quarter GDP growth.”

Total exports to the US were up 23% and shipments to Asia were up 26%. But exports to China were weaker, rising nearly 13%.

Economists said Japan’s exports of machinery and other factory equipment will likely remain strong in the coming months as regional economies emerge from recent waves of pandemic lockdowns.

But car manufacturers have had to slow production because they are running short of computer chips and other parts due to the increasing demand for IT products.

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The data showed auto exports fell 1.5% in August, while imports of oil and other fuels rose 21%.

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