Friday, March 22, 2013
China's Importance Fades As Exports To U.S., ASEAN Pick Up
TOKYO (Nikkei)--Japanese exports to China continued to decline in February, coming in under those to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for the first time in seven and a half years, data released Thursday shows.
China had been the Japan's biggest export market since after the Lehman crisis until the U.S. took over last November.
Overall, Japanese exports fell 2.9% on the year to 5.28 trillion yen in February, according to preliminary trade statistics from the Ministry of Finance. The nation recorded a trade deficit of 777.4 billion yen that month.
Exports to China decreased 15.8% to 842.2 billion yen, with auto exports plunging 54.1% to 23.7 billion yen.
In addition to lingering anti-Japan sentiment, "the weakness in the Chinese economy impacted" exports, said Kiichi Murashima of Citigroup Global Markets Japan Inc.
Meanwhile, exports to the U.S. grew 5.7% to 1 trillion yen, exceeding exports to China for a fourth straight month. Exports to ASEAN went up 2.9% to 842.9 billion yen.
"Japanese companies' investments and sales efforts have started paying off, thanks to the domestic-demand-led economic growth in Thailand and other countries in the region," said Tomoo Kinoshita, chief economist at Nomura Securities Co.
Domestic demand has also been driving economic growth in Indonesia and the Philippines, reducing Japan's dependence on China as an export market, according to Kinoshita.
Exports to China had expanded at an annual clip of 10-30% since 2000, exceeding those to ASEAN in July 2005. But after returning to the pre-Lehman level of 1.2 trillion yen in December 2010, Japanese exports to China have been sliding gradually in pace with the slowing economic growth there.
(The Nikkei, March 22 morning edition)