Sharp Japan export slowdown dents 'Abenomics', flags Asia weakness

Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:06am EDT
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By Leika Kihara and Tetsushi Kajimoto

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's export growth fell well short of expectations in September as the country posted a record run of trade deficits, a sign that slowing demand in Asia is taking the shine off Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's stimulus policies.

In volume terms Japan's exports fell on the month, adding to the weak picture for Asia's trade-reliant economies, after China last week reported a surprise slide in exports for September.

Taiwan's export orders - a leading indicator of activity over the next two or three months - highlighted similar signs of slowing demand in the region.

"There is really no change in the main thing that's going on across Asia - which is no growth in exports the past two years. I think it's weak global spending, it's as simple as that," said

Tim Condon, regional economist for ING in Singapore.

A sharp drop in Japan's export volume despite the boost from a weak yen, which lifts the competitiveness of Japanese goods, could curb third-quarter economic growth.

Japanese policymakers are counting on overseas growth to pick up in time to make up for an expected slump in personal spending after the sales tax is raised next April.

Persistent trade gaps in Japan also add to concerns the country could end up spending more overseas than it earns, adding to strains caused by the country's debt burden, the heaviest among industrialized nations.   Continued...

A man rides a bicycle past containers at a port in Tokyo October 21, 2013. REUTERS/Issei Kato