In April, Japan’s export growth reached its slowest rate in over two years, primarily driven by a decline in shipments to China. This decline can be attributed to persistent concerns surrounding weakened global economic demand.
Exports grew by 2.6 percent in April compared to a year earlier, according to data from the Ministry of Finance published on Thursday, which is slower than economists’ expected growth of 3 percent, and the achieved growth in March of 4.3 percent. Reuters reports that it marked the weakest growth since February 2021, when exports fell 4.5 percent.
Assisted by increased consumer spending and a surge in tourism after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, the third-largest global economy successfully emerged from recession during the first quarter. Still, weak exports are weighing on factory activity and the broader recovery.
Exports fell by 4.2 percent in January-March, which is the first result in six quarters.
Japan’s exports to China, the country’s biggest trading partner, fell 2.9 percent in April on a year-over-year basis, dragged down by declines in car production, auto parts, and steel shipments. It followed a 7.7 percent decline in March for the fifth month.
Imports fell 2.3 percent in April, much more than the median estimate for a 0.3 percent decline and the first annual decline in 27 months, as prices for crude oil and other commodities fell.
Toyota Wants to Do More to Meet the Expectations of The Chinese Market
Toyota Motor CEO Koji Sato gave a scathing assessment of the Japanese automaker’s upcoming performance in China, saying that vehicle production must be faster as global competition grows.
In China, Toyota is under pressure from local brands such as BYD, which have been very aggressive when demand for e-vehicles is increasing.
The world’s biggest carmaker by sales used the Shanghai show this week to unveil two new EVs, which it hopes will double the number of vehicles it has in the Chinese market.
The company said earlier this month that it would launch 10 new battery-powered EV models and establish a specialized unit to focus on next-generation vehicles as it seeks to step up its foray into the global market.