Japan has logged its 26th consecutive month with a trade deficit, as August ended in the red by 948.5 billion yen or $8.7 billion, as soft demand from the U.S. and China stymied the country’s exports, the Ministry of Finance announced Thursday.
Exports dropped by 1.3% from the same month last year to $53.3 billion and imports were down 1.5% to $62.1 billion, which resulted in a deficit of just under $8.8 billion. This was according to data that is still preliminary and could change somewhat.
A weakening in the Japanese yen has thus far failed to rebound the country’s exports, despite a U.S. economy that is recovering. Growth is slower in China, the biggest Japanese trading partner, which has hurt as well.
Consumer spending in Japan has also been somewhat lackluster since a sales tax increase on April 1, which in turn reduced import demand.
Exports from Japan to China dropped by 0.2% from the same period one year ago to $10.4 billion. Imports also fell by 5.3% to $12.6 billion, which yielded a $2.2 billion deficit.
Exports from Japan to the U.S. were down 4.4% as shipments of cars faltered. The total exports to the U.S. were $9.5 billion, although imports into Japan from the U.S. were up close to 11% to $5.9 billion.
Overall, the exports of electronics, chemicals and vehicles dropped, while imports of crude oil and coal were lower.
Over the last few weeks, the U.S. dollar has increased sharply after hovering near the 102 yen market during August. On Thursday morning, the dollar was at 108.5 yen.
A yen that is weaker means imported oil, gas, components and other material have higher costs.
Stronger U.S. growth might be critical to the recovery of Japan, though thus far it has not had much of an overall impact on Japan’s exports, said one analyst in the industry.
As Japan cannot expect a great deal for recovery of exports to the Eurozone and China, near term balance in trade outlook will depend more and more on how the exports to the U.S. will move, said on commodities analyst.