Japan logged a trade deficit of JPY 55.3 billion in December 2018, compared with a surplus of JPY 356.2 billion a year earlier and market expectations of a JPY 29.5 billion gap. Imports rose 1.9 percent to JPY 7.08 trillion, mainly nudged by 23.9 percent jump in purchases from the US, whereas exports declined 3.8 percent to JPY 7.02 trillion, mainly dragged by a 7.0 percent drop in sales to China. Balance of Trade in Japan averaged 359.19 JPY Billion from 1963 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 1608.67 JPY Billion in September of 2007 and a record low of -2795.12 JPY Billion in January of 2014.

Balance of Trade in Japan is expected to be -480.00 JPY Billion by the end of this quarter, according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts expectations. Looking forward, we estimate Balance of Trade in Japan to stand at 400.00 in 12 months time. In the long-term, the Japan Balance of Trade is projected to trend around 410.00 JPY Billion in 2020, according to our econometric models.

Japan Balance of Trade
Forecast Data Chart
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Calendar GMT Actual Previous Consensus TEForecast
2018-10-17 11:50 PM Balance of Trade ¥140B ¥-438B ¥-50B ¥ -38B
2018-11-18 11:50 PM Balance of Trade ¥-449B ¥131B ¥-70B ¥ -88.6B
2018-12-18 11:50 PM Balance of Trade ¥-737B ¥-450B ¥-600.3B ¥ -100B
2019-01-22 11:50 PM Balance of Trade ¥-55B ¥-738B ¥-29.5B ¥-25B
2019-02-19 11:50 PM Balance of Trade ¥-55B ¥-1011B ¥-1000B
2019-03-17 11:50 PM Balance of Trade
2019-04-16 11:50 PM Balance of Trade

Japan Trade Balance Swings to Deficit in December

Japan logged a trade deficit of JPY 55.3 billion in December 2018, compared with a surplus of JPY 356.2 billion a year earlier and market expectations of a JPY 29.5 billion gap.

Imports rose 1.9 percent from a year earlier to JPY 7.08 trillion in December, missing market expectations of a 3.7 percent growth and far slower than a 12.5 percent increase in November. Purchases of mineral fuels grew 8.7 percent, driven by petroleum (7.2 percent) and LNG (25.7 percent); and imports of others went up 1.1 percent, mainly led by scientific, optical instruments (9.5 percent). In addition, inbound shipments grew for: machinery (6 percent); chemicals (8.2 percent), namely medical products (21.5 percent) and organic chemicals (1.8 percent); manufactured goods (2.7 percent), of which nonferrous metals (0.6 percent), manufactures of metals (6.1 percent), textile yarn, fabrics (5.1 percent) and iron and steel products (1.1 percent); and transport equipment (9.8 percent), namely aircraft (94.4 percent). In contrast, imports of electrical machinery fell 10.8 percent, driven by telephony, telegraphy (-36.8 percent) and semiconductors etc (-2.9 percent).

Among major trading partners, import increases were recorded from the US (23.9 percent), Australia (7.9 percent), the EU (2 percent), in particular the UK (14.6 percent), and the Middle East (9.2 percent), in particular Saudi Arabia (10.4 percent) and the UAE (14.9 percent). By contrast, imports from Asia fell 2.9 percent due to lower purchases from China (-6.4 percent), Taiwan (-2.6 percent), Indonesia (-6.1 percent) and Malaysia (-7.8 percent), while those from South Korea (3.9 percent), Thailand (7.6 percent) and Vietnam (10.7 percent) rose.

Exports declined 3.8 percent to JPY 7.02 trillion, worse than market consensus of a 1.9 percent drop and after a 0.1 percent rise in November. It was the first yearly drop in outbound shipments in three months and the steepest since October 2016 amid weakening global demand and ongoing trade dispute between China and the US. Exports of machinery slumped 6.6 percent, mainly due to semicon machinery etc (-22.4 percent), metalworking machinery (-8.8 percent), pump and centrifuges (-8.7 percent) and parts of computer (-4.8 percent). Sales of electrical machinery fell 7.4 percent, namely semiconductors (-8.2 percent); and those of manufactured goods shrank 5.2 percent, mainly due to iron and steel products (-7.5 percent) and nonferrous metals (-10.2 percent). Exports also decreased for motor vehicles (-0.5 percent) and scientific, optical instruments (-10.3 percent), while sales of chemicals grew 4.2 percent.

Exports fell to Asia (-6.9 percent), in particular to China (-7 percent), South Korea (-11.6 percent), Taiwan (-7.1 percent), Hong Kong (-17.3 percent) and Singapore (-3.3 percent), while those to Thailand rose 4.2 percent. In addition, there were decreases in exports to Australia (-16 percent), Germany (-5 percent) and the Middle East (-4.9 percent), while growth in shipments was seen to the US (1.6 percent) and the UK (14 percent).

Considering 2018 full year, Japan posted a trade deficit of JPY 1.20 trillion, the first trade gap since 2015, as persistent global trade tensions negatively affected Japanese companies' exports. Exports for the year increased 4.1 percent, much slower than a 11.8 percent rise in 2017, with sales growth easing to China (6.8 percent vs 20.5 percent) and the US (2.3 percent vs 6.9 percent). Imports went up 9.7 percent, after a 14.1 percent advance in 2017. 

Ministry of Finance | Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com
1/23/2019 10:23:12 AM

Japan Trade Last Previous Highest Lowest Unit
Balance of Trade -55.29 -737.71 1608.67 -2795.12 JPY Billion [+]
Current Account 452.80 757.22 3360.40 -1456.11 JPY Billion [+]
Current Account to GDP 4.02 3.70 4.70 -1.00 percent [+]
Imports 7079.28 7665.73 8047.03 162.06 JPY Billion [+]
Exports 7024.00 6928.02 7681.69 105.08 JPY Billion [+]
External Debt 446531.00 426882.00 446531.00 141743.00 JPY Billion [+]
Terms of Trade 98.60 96.20 276.10 83.10 Index Points [+]
Foreign Direct Investment 10090.78 22692.42 45202.00 -3825.00 JPY Hundreds Million [+]
Capital Flows 1839.00 11120.00 51917.00 -26928.00 JPY HML [+]
Tourism Revenues 18906000.00 22140000.00 27665000.00 821000.00 JPY Thousand [+]
Tourist Arrivals 2631800.00 2450800.00 2900700.00 225806.00 [+]
Gold Reserves 765.20 765.20 765.22 753.54 Tonnes [+]
Terrorism Index 2.93 3.60 3.60 0.00 [+]
Crude Oil Production 3.00 3.00 13.00 3.00 BBL/D/1K [+]

Exports by Country  |   Exports by Category  |   Imports by Country  |   Imports by Category

Japan Balance of Trade

Between 1980 and 2010 Japan had been recording trade surpluses every year due to rising exports. Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, trade balance swing to deficit as the country had to increase purchases of fossil fuels and gas in the wake of weaker yen. The surplus was back in 2016 and 2017. Japan reports the biggest trade surpluses with United States, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Netherlands. The biggest trade deficits are recorded with: China, Australia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Malaysia and Indonesia. This page provides - Japan Balance of Trade - actual values, historical data, forecast, chart, statistics, economic calendar and news. Japan Balance of Trade - actual data, historical chart and calendar of releases - was last updated on February of 2019.

Actual Previous Highest Lowest Dates Unit Frequency
-55.29 -737.71 1608.67 -2795.12 1963 - 2018 JPY Billion Monthly
Current Prices, NSA

Country Last Previous
Argentina 1369.00 Dec/18
Australia 3681.00 Dec/18
Brazil 2190.00 Jan/19
Canada -2060.10 Nov/18
China 391.60 Jan/19
Euro Area 16990.70 Dec/18
France -4653.00 Dec/18
Germany 13900.00 Dec/18
India -14730.00 Jan/19
Indonesia -1159.50 Jan/19
Italy 3658.00 Dec/18
Japan -55.29 Dec/18
Mexico 1836.32 Dec/18
Netherlands 3572.00 Dec/18
Russia 18856.00 Dec/18
Saudi Arabia 184673.00 Sep/18
Singapore 2415.21 Jan/19
South Africa 17167.41 Dec/18
South Korea 1336.00 Jan/19
Spain -2568800.00 Nov/18
Switzerland 1787.14 Dec/18
Turkey -2674.41 Dec/18
United Kingdom -3229.00 Dec/18
United States -49313.00 Nov/18