The United States supplanted China as Japan’s biggest export market in fiscal 2012, which ended on March 31, for the first time in four years, according to preliminary figures released by the Finance Ministry.
The figures also showed that Japan posted a record trade deficit of 8.170 trillion yen ($82.94 billion) with the rest of the world in fiscal 2012, as overall exports declined while overall imports rose.
In fiscal 2012, Japan’s overall exports dropped 2.1 percent from a year earlier to 63.941 trillion yen ($649.15 billion), while its overall imports increased 3.4 percent year-on-year to 72.111 trillion yen ($732.09 billion).
The fiscal 2012 decline in Japan’s overall exports was led by ships, electronic parts, including semiconductors, and construction and mining machinery, which sank 15.2 percent, 4.6 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively, in terms of value.
The fiscal 2012 growth in Japan’s overall imports was led by liquefied natural gas (LNG), crude oil and telecommunications equipment, which soared 14.9 percent, 5.3 percent and 31.9 percent, respectively, in terms of value. The sharp weakening of the yen against the U.S. dollar in recent months also pushed up the value of Japan’s overall imports.
Japan is now the world’s third-largest economy after the U.S. and China and is heavily dependent on exports for growth.
The U.S. is Japan’s second-largest trading partner after China, including both exports and imports. But Japan’s exports to the U.S. exceeded those to China in fiscal 2012 for the first time in four years, although China remained Japan’s biggest import source.
In fiscal 2012, Japan’s exports to the U.S. surged 10.4 percent from a year earlier to 11.396 trillion yen ($115.70 billion), while its shipments to China tumbled 9.1 percent year-on-year to 11.344 trillion yen ($115.17 billion).
Japan’s imports from the U.S. also rose 1.5 percent in fiscal 2012 from a year earlier to 6.111 trillion yen ($62.04 billion). As a result, Japan posted a trade surplus of 5.286 trillion yen ($53.66 billion) with the U.S.
The fiscal 2012 growth in U.S.-bound shipments was led by autos, auto parts and motors, which jumped 16.8 percent, 19.2 percent and 16.1 percent, respectively, in terms of value.
The fiscal 2012 increase in imports from the U.S. was led by aircraft, petroleum products and medical products, which soared 41.2 percent, 63.5 percent and 11.0 percent, respectively, in terms of value.