Page last updated at 08:12 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Japan's February exports halved

Cars for export are parked at a Yokohama port, near Tokyo. File photo
Consumers around the world no longer want to buy Japanese cars

Japan's exports saw a record plunge in February, falling by nearly half compared with a year earlier, according to the country's finance ministry.

Exports fell 49.4% year-on-year to 3.526tn yen ($36bn; £24.6bn), though this was in line with forecasts.

The latest data comes after figures for January showed year-on-year exports nearly halved that month as well.

The world's second-largest economy is suffering in the downturn as demand for its products has collapsed.

Exports are important for Japan, so the global downturn is affecting the country particularly badly, according to the BBC's Tokyo correspondent Roland Buerk.

Surplus

"Japanese growth was exclusively dependent on exports," said Professor Noriko Hama at Doshisha Business School in Kyoto.

"It was natural that Japan would be hit a lot more severely than other countries."

Car exports dropped more than 70% for February. Car firms are cutting jobs and reducing shifts in response to slowing demand.

But on the upside, Japan's trade balance was in surplus in February after a record deficit in January, because the decline in exports was offset by a sharp fall in imports, which were 43% lower for the month.

This surplus last month, which reached 82.4bn yen ($841m), was the first in five months.

Japan, which is officially in recession, saw its economy contract by an annualised 12.1% in the last three months of 2008, the biggest contraction among developed countries.

The government is working on a third stimulus package, which local media reports have estimated will be worth 20 trillion yen.



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Irish Times Japan slips to brink of deflation - 1 hr ago
Reuters UK's Brown talks of action, deflation stalks Japan - 3 hrs ago
New York Times Japans Small Exporters Are Hit Hardest - 31 hrs ago
Japan TimesExports plunged 49.4% in February - 33 hrs ago
Manila Times Japanese exports suffer record plunge in February - 34 hrs ago
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