(From AFP)

Japan swung back to a trade deficit in January as exports to China plunged, official data showed Thursday, underscoring the impact of a slowdown in one of Tokyo’s biggest trade partners.

Japan containerport
Japan containerport

The disappointing figures come after Japan’s economy shrank 0.4 percent in the October-December quarter — or an annualised 1.4 percent drop — owing to weak demand for big-ticket items like cars and home appliances.

That was Japan’s second quarterly contraction in 2015, and dealt another blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s bid to slay deflation and kick-start the world’s number three economy.

The monthly deficit came in at 646 billion yen ($5.7 billion), reversing a 140 billion yen surplus in December, figures released Thursday showed.

Overall exports slid almost 13 percent from a year ago, while shipments to China dived 17.5 percent, as the powerhouse economy wobbles. Despite diplomatic tensions, China is a key trading partner for Japan.

Exports to other major markets also fell, with a 5.3 percent decline in US shipments and 3.6 percent fall for EU-bound exports.

Imports, meanwhile, dropped 18.0 percent as the cost of oil and gas fell. Read more

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