Japan's exports rebound in October even as trade tensions rise

(Adds detail, background on trade talks)
* Oct exports +8.2 pct yr/yr vs forecast +9.0 pct
* Exports in volume terms +3.8 percent yr/yr
* Exports to United States, China-bound shipments rebound
* U.S.-China trade war dims outlook for export-led Japan

By Tetsushi Kajimoto
TOKYO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Japan's exports rebounded in the
year to October, reversing from the prior month's surprise drop
as U.S.-bound shipments grew, although slowing global demand and
the intensifying U.S.-China trade war could cloud the outlook
for export-reliant Japan.
Ministry of Finance (MOF) data out on Monday showed exports
rose 8.2 percent in October from a year before, versus a 9.0
percent annual increase expected by economists in a Reuters
The export growth followed a revised 1.3 percent
year-on-year drop in September, which analysts say was caused by
natural disasters that crimped factory output and distribution
of goods.
The data followed gross domestic product data issued last
week that showed Japan's economy, the world's third largest,
shrank more than expected in the third quarter, hit by the
natural disasters and export slump.
While the economy is expected to return to growth this
quarter as temporary effects from natural disasters fade,
Japanese policymakers remain wary about the overall economic
impact of international trade friction.
Japan's exports to the United States grew 11.6 percent in
the year to October, led by shipments of cars. U.S.-bound auto
exports stood at 154,085 cars, up 3.0 percent year-on-year,
rising for the first time in five months.
Imports from the United States rose 34.3 percent in October,
led by feed corn, liquefied petroleum gas and crude oil, helping
reduce Japan's trade surplus with the United States by 11.0
percent versus the same month last year to 573.4 billion yen
($5.09 billion).
U.S. President Donald Trump has criticised Japan as well as
China over trade, asserting that Tokyo treats the United States
unfairly by shipping millions of cars to North America while
blocking imports of U.S. autos and farm products.
In September, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump agreed to
start trade talks in an arrangement that appeared, at least for
now, to protect Japanese automakers from further tariffs on
their exports, which make up about two-thirds of Japan's $69
billion annual trade surplus with the United States.
Monday's trade data showed exports to China, Japan's biggest
trading partner, rose 9.0 percent in the year to October led by
cars, car engines and plastic raw materials, following the prior
month's drop.
Shipments to Asia, which account for more than half of
Japan's overall exports, rose 7.3 percent.
Overall imports rose 19.9 percent in the year to October,
versus the median estimate for a 14.5 percent annual increase,
bringing in a trade deficit of 449.3 billion yen.

($1 = 112.7600 yen)

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto, editing by Eric Meijer)

First Published: 2018-11-19 01:53:48
Updated 2018-11-19 02:51:43

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