According to Kyodo News, data released by Japan’s Ministry of Finance on January 20 showed that Japan’s imports and exports of goods in December 2021 both hit record highs, driven by increased demand for automobiles and rising energy prices.
Preliminary data showed that Japan’s exports in December increased by 17.5% year-on-year to 7.9 trillion yen, the 10th consecutive month of growth; imports increased by 41.1% year-on-year to 8.5 trillion yen, the 11th consecutive month of growth. The merchandise trade deficit in December was 582.4 billion yen, the fifth consecutive month of deficit.
Economists said that despite the rapid spread of the mutated new coronavirus Omicron strain in Europe and the United States in December 2021, Japan’s exports to these countries have been limited. “Due to the impact of the new crown pneumonia epidemic, people’s demand for services has decreased, but the demand for goods such as home appliances has increased,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Japan’s Agricultural and Forestry Institute. On the one hand, the depreciation of the yen has also helped boost exports, bringing profits back home.
Japan’s exports to its biggest trading partner, China, rose 10.8% to a record 1.7 trillion yen in December 2021, the 18th straight month of growth, on strong demand for semiconductor-related parts and vehicles. Japan’s exports to the United States rose 22.1 percent to 1.5 trillion yen, the third straight monthly increase.
The report shows that Japan’s exports in 2021 will increase by 21.5% over the previous year to 83.0931 trillion yen, driven by strong exports of steel, automobiles, semiconductor manufacturing equipment and other fields; due to the significant increase in import prices of crude oil, liquefied natural gas, non-ferrous metals and other products The exchange rate of the yen weakened, Japan’s imports increased by 24.3% to 84.5652 trillion yen, and the annual trade deficit was 1.4721 trillion yen. The rise in import prices is the main reason for the huge trade deficit.
From the perspective of countries and regions, China continues to maintain its position as Japan’s largest export market. Due to the significant increase in exports of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, plastics and other products to China, Japan’s exports to China will increase by 19.2% to 17.9844 trillion yen in 2021, with a trade deficit with China. Continue to shrink; exports to the United States changed from the previous two consecutive years of decline to an increase of 17.6%, with an export value of 14.8324 trillion yen, and Japan’s trade surplus with the United States increased to 5.9419 trillion yen; exports to the EU increased by 21.4% to 7.6685 trillion yen, showing a trade deficit for 10 consecutive years.
Looking ahead, economists say the spread of the Omicron strain in Southeast Asia should be carefully watched.