China Overtakes US in Japanese Export

By Zuo Maohong
Published: 2008-08-22

China has replaced the US to become Japan's biggest export destination, according to trade statistics for July released on August 21 by the Japanese Finance Ministry.

The statistics showed exports to mainland China in July rose by 16.8% to 1.17 trillion dollars (about 7.97 trillion yuan), the highest level since the end of World War II.

After a consecutive 10-month drop, Japanese exports to the US stood at 1.16 trillion dollars (about 7.91 trillion yuan) in July, down by 11.5% compared with the same period last year.

Among the commodities exported to China, electrical machinery, which took up 24.2%, made the biggest contribution, while car exports had the biggest year-on-year growth.

The massive demand from the Chinese market and a weaker US economy were the major reasons for this change, said Xu Mei, research fellow at the economics department of Institute of Japanese Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Xu believed the past few years had already shown a sign of such a change—since 2000, Japanese exports to China had been rising steadily. She expected this trend would continue, as long as China maintained a healthy growth.

In terms of total trading volume, China has already become Japan's biggest trading partner since 2006.

While China had kept a considerable trade surplus against Japan in recent years, statistics from the Japan External Trade Organization showed this surplus had been declining since 2005, when the surplus stood at 28.76 billion dollars (195.57 billion yuan); but by year-end 2007, it had dropped to 18.58 billion dollars (126.34 billion yuan).

Meanwhile, Japan's investment in China had also dropped continuously for the past two years.

This year marked a milestone in the two nations' ties not just in terms of trade, just 10 days ago, the two celebrated the 30th anniversary of the China-Japan Peace and Friendship Treaty, which normalized their bilateral ties in post-war era.

Top leaders from both sides had paid official visits to each other this year and pledged to improve cooperations in all spheres.