Japanese exports rise by 12.1% in December

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Friday, January 29, 2010

According to official figures, exports from Japan have increased for the first time in fifteen months, since the official start of the global economic slowdown.

Data released yesterday indicates that exports rose by 12.1% in December compared to a year earlier, to 5.4 trillion yen (US$60 billion). Demand from Asia, and especially China, helped boost the statistics. According to Al Jazeera, over fifty percent of exports were accounted to Asia, or $33 billion.

Imports, however, were down by 5.5% to 4.9 trillion yen compared to a year earlier, resulting in a trade surplus of 545.3 trillion yen surplus for last month.

"Most countries around the world are seeing their economies recover but improvements in advanced economies remain fragile," remarked Takeshi Minami, who is with the the Norinchukin Research Institute. "We can't rely too much on strong growth in those countries, so Japanese exports will continue to focus on shipments to Asia."

However, the central Japanese bank held key interest rates down at 0.1% on Tuesday, and predicted that deflation would still be present in the economy for three more years. The Japanese economy officially exited the recession in the 2009 April–June quarter, although some economic analysts are concerned about how strong the recovery will be.

Meanwhile, the Japanese finance ministry announced that China overtook the United States as the country's largest overseas market; China is also about to overtake Japan as the second largest economy in the world.

"The focus of the world's growth is shifting to China and other emerging economies. China will remain a trade partner as important to Japan as the United States in the future," remarked the chief economist for Barclays Capital in Tokyo, Kyohei Morita.