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Nikkei Chinese: U.S. Surpassed China to Become Japan’s Largest Export Destination

Nikkei Chinese Edition recently reported that, for the first time in four years, the United States surpassed China as the top destination for Japanese exports in 2023. The United States economy currently appears strong, and Japan’s exports to the United States are recovering in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the Chinese economy is struggling, and Japanese exports to China are sluggish.

The 2023 trade statistics report released by the Japanese Ministry of Finance showed that the country’s total exports were 100.8865 trillion yen (around US$681 billion), exceeding 100 trillion yen for the first time and representing an increase of 2.8 percent over the previous year. Total imports were valued at 110.1779 trillion yen (around US$743 billion), a decrease of 7 percent. Japan’s trade deficit was 54.3 percent smaller than in 2022. Exports to the United States were 20.2668 trillion yen (around US$137 billion), a year-over-year increase of 11 percent. Exports to the European Union were 10.374 trillion yen (around US$70 billion), an increase of 10.9 percent year-over-year. Japanese automobile exports to the U.S. grew 35.5 percent year-over-year, driving overall growth. A weaker yen helped exports too.

Japan’s exports to China were significantly affected by China’s economic slowdown, a major component of which is rooted in China’s current real estate market slump. China’s unemployment rate is high, and willingness to consume within the country has been weakened.

Despite strong year-over-year growth, Japan’s future exports to the United States still face many risks, including potential slowdown in the U.S. economy. Moreover, China’s economy could be slow to recover, leading to slow export growth for Japan and continued trade deficits.

Source: Nikkei Chinese, January 26, 2024