venerdì 22 agosto 2008

China surpass US as Japan's biggest customer

Mainland China overtook the US as Japan’s largest export destination for the first time last month, underlining the growing importance of Chinese demand to the world’s second-largest economy.

Exports to China, which have risen in each of the last 38 months, expanded by 16.8 per cent in July to their highest level since the Japanese government began compiling statistics in 1950.

At the same time, exports to the US declined by 11.5 per cent, marking the 11th consecutive monthly drop. Overall, shipments rose by 8.1 per cent by value, after falling in June for the first time since 2003, the finance ministry said.

Japan’s July trade surplus suffered an unexpectedly large decline of 86.6 per cent to Y91.1bn ($829m, €562m, £445m) because of an 18.2 per cent surge in imports by value. The market forecast was for a trade surplus in July of more than Y200bn. The fall, the fifth monthly decline in a row, reflected a near 70 per cent rise in the price of crude oil and a more than doubling of the price of coal.

Many analysts expect exports to fall again in coming months as the slowdown in western economies begins to have an impact on demand in emerging economies such as China.

“It is difficult to believe that Japan will be able to maintain the kind of growth in exports that it saw in July. I think there is a higher chance of a slowdown,” said Kyohei Morita, chief economist at Barclays Capital in Tokyo.Given China’s growing dependence on the EU as an export destination, Chinese growth was likely to decelerate, leading in turn to a slowdown in Japanese exports to China, Mr Morita said.

Beyond the news, my opinion

If japanese market is still suffering a big fall for domestic production and consumptions we can clearly observe that the business profile of Japan abroad is totally changing.

We started before by an univocal partnership with USA  but now it seems that japanese companies are sure they are able to approach by theyself, with high profile production, new important markets like China. 

I think that China for those big companies like Komatsu or Honda it will not be just a "paradise for exportations" but it'd became the first partner for production and investiment plans as well, probably more than USA.

So China is also involving european companies, that had good relations with japan up to now, in a new exciting atmosphere which those companies, never had a try at doing business in China but still have a long friendship with Japan, finally are able to improve their business knowledges trying to communicate with the "big dragon". Of course, that communication it should be mediated by those japanese partners we've already managed good business...

Paolo Cacciato

Asian Studies Group

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