Japan’s exports decline for third straight month

TOKYO, March 18 .Japanese exports declined for the third straight month in February while imports also fell, according to government data Monday, indicating a possible slowdown in the world’s third biggest economy.

Exports slipped 1.2 percent from a year earlier to 6.38 trillion yen ($57 billion) and imports declined even more sharply — by 6.7 percent to 6.05 trillion yen.

“Concerns remain for the immediate future given worries over the global economy and weak demand in the IT sector,” Asuka Sakamoto, economist at Mizuho Research Institute, told AFP.

The weak import figure is also a source of concern as it may reflect declining orders for companies as they reduce production domestically, added Sakamoto.

Analysts will be closely watching export and corporate investment data for further clues on the economy’s health, she said.

Exports to China increased 5.5 percent while imports dropped 15.8 percent, as imports declined of clothes, metal products and parts for audio visual products.

Japan’s politically sensitive surplus with the United States slipped 0.9 percent from a year earlier to 624.9 billion yen.

With the European Union, Japan logged a 58.2 billion yen surplus. Overall, the country logged a 339 billion yen trade surplus in February, the first surplus for five months.