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Japan records goods trade deficit in July on weak exports to China

In this March 5, 2019, photo, cars for export park at a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan logged a goods trade deficit of 249.6 billion yen ($2.34 billion) in July, weighed down by sluggish exports to China amid Beijing's ongoing trade conflict with Washington, government data showed Monday.

The trade deficit followed a revised 589.6 billion yen surplus in June, according to a preliminary report by the Finance Ministry.

In the reporting month, exports fell 1.6 percent from a year earlier to 6.64 trillion yen, down for the eighth consecutive month, and imports were down 1.2 percent to 6.89 trillion yen, declining for the third straight month, the ministry said.

With China, imports rose 2.8 percent from a year before. But exports, including auto components and semiconductor manufacturing equipment, tumbled 9.3 percent, leaving the world's third-largest economy with a deficit of 383.8 billion yen against its biggest trading partner.

Also, against the whole of Asia, including China, Japan's trade surplus plunged 64.6 percent to 188.6 billion yen.

From July 4, the Japanese government required individual licenses to export to South Korea three key materials used to manufacture semiconductors and display panels, citing national security concerns.

But a Finance Ministry official said it is difficult to tell how the tighter export control affected Japan's exports to South Korea because the data has no categories measuring the items' trade value.

Among other partners, Japan's trade surplus with the United States surged 15.6 percent from a year earlier to 579.4 billion yen, marking the fifth consecutive monthly gain, amid strong demand for semiconductor manufacturing equipment and excavators.

With the European Union, Japan ran a trade deficit of 67.9 billion yen, down for the first time in two months.

The figures were compiled on a customs-cleared basis.

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