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Japan’s July exports up 37%, maintaining rebound from virus slump

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mainichi– Japan’s exports grew 37.0 percent from a year earlier in July, keeping up their sharp rebound from the initial blow of the coronavirus pandemic amid a solid global economic recovery, government data showed Wednesday.

Rising for the fifth month in a row, exports totaled 7.36 trillion yen ($67 billion), lifted by robust shipments of cars and auto parts to the United States as well as semiconductors and chip-making equipment to Asian nations including China, the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report.

The year-on-year increase topped 30 percent for the fourth straight month, following a 48.6 percent expansion in June, partly in reaction to a 19.2 percent drop in July last year when the pandemic dampened global demand for Japanese-made products such as cars.

The July exports recovered to levels seen before the pandemic, up 10.7 percent from 6.64 trillion yen in July 2019, largely helped by robust demand for chip-making devices amid a global shortage of semiconductors.

“I have the impression that Japan’s exports have been recovering firmly,” said Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at the Meiji Yasuda Research Institute, citing growth in shipments to China and the United States.

But he also warned that exports to China and Southeast Asian nations may slow down, affected by a resurgence of the virus driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.

By product, exports of automobiles and car parts in July were up 43.5 percent and 60.1 percent from a year earlier, respectively, while those of steel jumped 88.3 percent.

Overall imports soared 28.5 percent to 6.92 trillion yen, up for the sixth consecutive month, on rising prices for crude oil imports from the United Arab Emirates and other countries along with brisk purchases of iron ore mainly from Australia.

The goods trade surplus stood at 441.02 billion yen, ensuring black ink for the second successive month and turning positive from the previous year’s 14.76 billion yen deficit.

Exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner, advanced 18.9 percent to 1.58 trillion yen for the 13th straight month of growth. Imports from the neighboring country gained 12.4 percent to 1.64 trillion yen.

With the United States, Japanese exports surged 26.8 percent to 1.38 trillion yen, up for the fifth successive month. Imports from the world’s largest economy grew 24.4 percent to 724.03 billion yen.

Exports to Asia including China rose 32.5 percent to 4.21 trillion yen, while imports from the region grew 19.1 percent to 3.39 trillion yen.

Shipments to the European Union increased 46.1 percent to 639.96 billion yen, with imports from the bloc expanding 13.9 percent to 742.42 billion yen.

All figures were compiled on a customs-cleared basis.