Japan rebounds with 0.5% growth but trade war fears persist

12 Août, 2018, 09:31 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Hay fever takes a toll on Japan's economy

Exports are expected to have risen 6.3 percent in July from a year earlier, the poll of 16 economists showed, after rising 6.7 percent in June. According to government figures released Friday, the economy expanded at an annualized pace of 1.9 percent in the second quarter.

Officials at Japan's Cabinet Office say consumer spending was up 0.7 percent after snowy weather dragged the number into negative territory in the previous period.

The data represented a quick turnaround to a series of eight consecutive quarters of growth not seen since the heady days of Japan's boom of the 1980s.

While analysts expect the economy to sustain a recovery, some expect escalating global trade disputes will hurt the export and manufacturing sector, major drivers of growth in the world's third largest economy.

Preliminary data showed that trade weighed slightly on growth, a worrying sign as Japan braces for tariffs that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump plans to impose on imports of steel and, possibly, autos and auto parts.

Trump's talk of tariffs on vehicles imported into the world's No. 2 auto market remains a concern for Japanese automakers.

"Since the automakers have vast supporting industries, the impact of the tariffs would spread widely", Shimoda told AFP.

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Mizuho Research Institute senior economist Kentaro Arita estimated that potential United States tariffs could cost Japan's auto industry as much as US$10 billion (S$13.7 billion).

However, consumer spending has remained stubbornly lacklustre, with companies still stingy on wage hikes despite healthy profits.

And threatened auto tariffs could deal a blow to the vaunted "Abenomics" policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is aiming to secure his premiership by winning his party's presidential election next month.

GDP private consumption was up 0.7 percent on quarter, topping forecasts for 0.2 percent after easing 0.1 percent in the three months prior.

The gain was more than the median estimate for a 0.2 per cent increase and marked a rebound from a revised 0.2 per cent fall in the first quarter, it showed.

Japan has bounced back from a poor start to the year.

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