Japan ships fewer cars to US as export growth slows

Japanese carmakers have so far shown no sign of rushing to boost car shipments to the US, which would happen if they anticipated higher tariffs were to be imposed on their products in coming months. (Reuters)
Updated 16 August 2018
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Japan ships fewer cars to US as export growth slows

  • Japan’s exports to the US fell 5.2 percent year-on-year in July, down for a second straight month
  • Shipments to Asia, which account for more than half of Japan’s overall exports, rose 8.0 percent

TOKYO: Japan’s export growth slowed more than expected in July as shipments to the US fell for a second straight month, with the automotive sector down sharply and global trade disputes casting doubts over foreign demand.
Ministry of Finance (MOF) data out on Thursday showed exports rose 3.9 percent year-on-year in July, far below a 6.3 percent increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll. The rise followed a 6.7 percent year-on-year gain in June.
Japan’s exports to the US fell 5.2 percent year-on-year in July, down for a second straight month, due to a 12.1 percent decline in car shipments.
“The drop in US-bound car exports was in reaction to brisk sales seen there a year ago, boosted by the solid US economy and declines in oil prices,” said an MOF official in charge of compiling the data.
“We cannot say whether it was affected by trade tensions with the US.” US President Donald Trump has made the threat of heavy tariffs a core part of his agenda, with an eye on the US auto sector’s trade deficit with countries such as Germany and Japan, raising speculation about restrictions on US-bound car exports.
Japanese carmakers have so far shown no sign of rushing to boost car shipments to the US, which would happen if they anticipated higher tariffs were to be imposed on their products in coming months.
“While caution is heightening over US trade policy, US car sales are levelling off, causing Japan’s car exports to the US to level off as well,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.
“If capital outflows from emerging economies accelerate on top of this, it would cause a marked slowdown in global economy, further weighing on Japan’s exports.” Imports from the US rose 11.0 percent in the year to July, led by crude oil, motors and liquefied petroleum gas.
As a result, Japan’s trade surplus with the US fell 22.1 percent year-on-year to ¥502.7 billion ($4.55 billion). Exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner, rose 11.9 percent in July from a year ago.
Shipments to Asia, which account for more than half of Japan’s overall exports, rose 8.0 percent, led by semiconductor production equipment and electronics parts for China and sales of steel to Thailand.
Overall imports rose 14.6 percent in the year to July, roughly matching economists’ median estimate, resulting in a trade deficit of ¥231.2 billion, vastly exceeding the expected ¥50 billion.
Thursday’s trade figures came after gross domestic product (GDP) data last week showed Japan’s economy, the world’s third largest, rebounded in the second quarter from a January-March dip.
Analysts say global economic growth is likely to support Japan’s exports, but international trade conflicts are an ever-present risk to Japan’s export-reliant economy.
The impact on the broader economy from higher US tariffs on Japanese automotive exports would be significant, they say.
Japan’s economy grew at an annualized rate of 1.9 percent in the second quarter on the back of household and business spending, recovering from an earlier contraction.


Damac chief confident of Dubai property market recovery by 2021

Updated 20 min 15 sec ago
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Damac chief confident of Dubai property market recovery by 2021

DUBAI: One of the UAE’s leading property developers believes that the property market will pick up again by 2021.
Hussain Sajwani, the billionaire founder and chairman of Dubai-based Damac Properties, told a World Economic Forum meeting in the UAE that it could take “a few years” before the current phase of the property cycle reversed, boosted by foreign buyers, especially those from China.
“As you appreciate the property market is cyclical everywhere in the world — and you see a few years up, and a few years down.

“We had our chance of a (bull) market from 2012 to 2015 … Then in 2016 we started seeing some slowdown with the oil prices coming down,” he said at the WEF’s Global Future Councils gathering in Dubai.
“This year has been a difficult year and I think next year will be another difficult year. I don’t see it’s going to be better than this year. We’re in that cycle of slowdown and it will take a few years. I hope that by 2020 with the Expo coming in, more people will be coming to Dubai,” he added.
Some real estate experts have forecast a recovery to the Dubai property market next year, as the expected “Expo 2020 effect” boosts the economy.
Sajwani was confident of the long-term attractions of Dubai.

“I genuinely believe Dubai is still a hidden jewel and a lot of people around the world still want to come to Dubai and they love it,” he said.
“If we just take one country, like China, if we can attract another few million tourists from China we can get more people to come here, spend time, buy property… and retail … I would hope by the end of 2020 or 2021 we start coming out of this slowdown.”