Japan posts record run of export declines

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    TOKYO- Japan’s exports fell in November, dashing expectations for an end to the two-year run of declines, largely due to weaker US- and Chinabound shipments and suggesting a slower pace of recovery for the world’s third-largest economy.

    The trade data is likely to be of some concern for policymakers counting on solid external demand to boost factory output and broader corporate activity to revive the economy.

    “The risk that Japan’s economy will stall in the first quarter is gradually becoming stronger,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.

    “It feels like Japan’s economic recovery is somewhat behind that in China and the United States and European countries given the exports trend and state of domestic demand.”

    Ministry of Finance (MOF) data out on Wednesday showed exports fell 4.2 percent in November from a year earlier, defying the economists’ median estimate of a 0.5 percent increase in a Reuters poll.

    That marked the 24th straight month of decline, the longest stretch on record based on comparable data going back to 1979, and follows a 0.2 percent drop in the previous month.

    Japan’s exports have failed to match the strong recoveries seen in major Asian manufacturing rivals China and South Korea, which have benefited from brisk global demand for technology that enables remote working during the pandemic.

    In contrast, analysts said Japanese manufacturers face challenges selling high-value capital goods, such as factory machinery, to overseas markets at a time when growing demand for consumer goods is driving the recovery in many of those economies.