Japan logged a deficit for a second straight year last year as its exports were hurt by a slowdown of demand in China amid a tariff war with the U.S.
Government data released Thursday showed Japan's exports fell 5.6% in 2019, to 76.9 trillion yen ($701.6 billion), while imports fell 5.0% to 78.6 trillion yen ($710 billion). That left a deficit of 1.6 trillion yen ($14 billion).
Japan had a trade surplus of 6.6 trillion yen ($60 billion) with the U.S. last year, as exports fell 1.4% from 2018, and imports fell 4.4%. Shipments of computers, construction and textiles equipment and power generating machines contributed to a 3.7% increase in exports of machinery to the U.S. Vehicle exports, which account for nearly 40% of Japanese exports to the U.S., declined 5.5%, the data show.
Exports and most imports from around the world also declined amid a global slowdown. Exports to China dropped nearly 8%, matching the drop in exports to all of the rest of Asia.
In December, exports continued to fall, but at a slower pace than the month before, dropping 6.3%, while imports slipped nearly 5%.
"Looking ahead, we think the recovery in exports will be weaker than many expect. That reflects our view that GDP growth in Japan's main trading partners will remain subdued this year," Tom Learmouth of Capital Economics said in a report.
He noted that an increase in Japan's sales tax, to 10% from 8%, as of Oct. 1 has also hurt consumer demand and private investment.
Japan's exports of cars and other vehicles, which constitute nearly a quarter of all its exports, fell 4%, while exports of electrical machinery dropped 6.6% . Its imports of gas, oil and other fuels fell 12% as prices declined from a year earlier.
President Donald Trump has thrown out past trade deals, including that with China, that he said added to the U.S. trade deficit and cost the country manufacturing jobs.
Indonesian lubricant brand Pertamina launched its business in Bangladesh.
State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid formally inaugurated the business in a function at Sonargaon Hotel in the city.
Currently many companies are getting interested to expand their business in the country, said the State Minister.
Hamid said that the Indonesian lube company will be able to do business successfully as many private companies are also coming up to invest in the industrial sector.
The function was also addressed by Indonesian Ambassador in Bangladesh Rina P Soemarno, power secretary Sultan Ahmed and director of Pertamina Lubricant’s director Adrenia Lusa.
The Pertamina officials said they have business in 20 countries across the globe.
Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited on Wednesday inaugurated Wari sub branch at Folding street of Wari in the Capital.
Md. Mahbub ul Alam, managing director & CEO of the bank inaugurated the sub branch as chief guest, said a press release.
Abu Reza Md. Yeahia, deputy managing director of the bank addressed the function as special guest.
Presided over by Md. Altaf Hossain, senior executive vice president & head of Dhaka Central Zone, the program was addressed by Md. Matiur Rahman, head of Motijheel Branch and Md. Fazlur Rahman, first assistant vice president of the bank.
US-Bangla Airlines, one of the country’s leading private airlines, on Wednesday added another 72-seater brand new ATR 72-600 aircraft raising its fleet number to thirteen, highest for a private airline in the country.
The aircraft which came straight from the factory in France landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport around 4:40 pm. The airline has planned to increase number of flights and new routes in domestic sector with the new aircraft.
Adviser of US-Bangla Airlines, Capt Sikder Mezbahuddin Ahmed along with high officials were present at the airport to receive the new plane. Capt. Ahmed told at the aircraft receiving program, “We promised safe and comfortable journey to all our valued customers. We take pride to be the best service provider with highest level of safety. We will continue to develop as the best airline of this country and in this region”,said in a press release.
The airline started its journey on July 17, 2014 with two 76-seater Dash8-Q400 aircraft and with the maiden flight to Jashore. Within less than two years it went international with the introduction of flight to Kathmandu. The airline’s fleet at present consists of thirteen aircraft: 4 (four) Boeing 737-800, 6 (six) Brand New ATR72-600 and 3 (three) Dash8-Q400.
Currently, in domestic routes, the airline operates daily flights to Chattogram, Cox’s Bazar, Jashore, Saidpur, Sylhet, Rajshahi and Barishal from Dhaka. In international routes, the airline operates flight to Kolkata, Chennai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Guangzhou, Muscat and Doha.
On the other part Capt. Ahmed said, “We are the biggest private airline in the country but it does not make us proud. What we are proud of is, we kept our promise to our valued customer by providing safe and comfortable flights with brand new aircrafts along with most modern aircraft and the best technologies available in the world”.
With the slogan of ‘Fly Fast-Fly Safe’, US-Bangla airlines started its journey and acquired recognition for timely flight operation, international standard cabin service, quality catering service, comfortable seat and proper passengers’ service.
The airline is planning to add four more brand new ATR 72-600 aircraft to its fleet by June 2020.
News that a new virus that has afflicted hundreds of people in central China can spread between humans has rattled financial markets and raised concern it might wallop the economy just as it might be regaining momentum.
Health authorities across Asia have been stepping up surveillance and other precautions to prevent a repeat of the disruptions and deaths during the 2003 SARS crisis, which caused $40 billion-$50 billion in losses from reduced travel and spending.
The first cases of what has been identified as a novel coronavirus were linked to a seafood market in Wuhan, suggesting animal-to-human transmission, but it now is also thought to be spread between people. As of Wednesday, some 440 people were confirmed infected and nine had died from the illness, which can cause pneumonia and other severe respiratory symptoms.
A retreat in financial markets on Tuesday was followed by a rebound on Wednesday, as investors snapped up bargains. Share benchmarks were mostly higher, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng gaining 1.1% and the Shanghai Composite index advancing 0.4%. Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 0.7%.
While the new virus appears much less dangerous than SARS, "the most significant Asia risk could lie ahead as the regional peak travel season takes hold, which could multiply the disease diffusion," said Stephen Innes, chief Asian strategist for AxiCorp. "So, while the risk is returning to the market, the lights might not turn green until we move through the Lunar New Year travel season to better gauge the coronavirus dispersion."
The 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in China, along with cases of a deadly form of bird flu, resulted in widespread quarantine measures in many Chinese cities and in Hong Kong. More than 8,000 people fell sick and just under 800 people died, a mortality rate of under 10%.
While the ordinary flu kills hundreds of thousands of people each year, such new diseases raise alarm due to the uncertainties over how deadly they might be and how they might spread. That's especially true during the annual mass travel of the Lunar New Year festival, which begins this week.
"The cost to the global economy can be quite staggering in negative GDP terms if this outbreak reaches epidemic proportions as until this week, the market was underestimating the potential of the flu spreading," Innes said in a report.
In China, health officials stepped up screening for fevers. "We ask the public to avoid crowds and minimize the public gatherings to reduce the possibility of cross infection," Li Bin, deputy director of the National Health Commission, said Wednesday.
Just as with SARS, though, the impact of the disease is likely to fall heaviest on specific industries, such as hotels and airlines, railways, casinos and other leisure businesses and retailers, analysts said. Most declined Tuesday but rebounded on Wednesday as investors locked in profits ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday. The outbreak is a boon, meanwhile, for pharmaceutical companies and makers of protective masks and other medical gear.
"If the pneumonia couldn't be contained in the short term, we expect China's retail sales, tourism, hotel & catering, travel activities likely to be hit, especially in the first and second quarters," said Ning Zhang of UBS. Government efforts to offset the shock would help, but growth will likely rebound less than earlier forecast, Zhang said.
As of Jan. 17, the World Health Organization had not recommended any international restrictions on travel but urged local authorities to work with the travel industry to help prevent the disease from spreading while warning travelers who fall ill to seek medical attention.
The illness is yet another blow for Hong Kong, whose economy is reeling from months of often violent anti-government protests. The wider concern is China, where the economy grew at a 30-year low 6.1% annual pace in 2019. An interim trade pact between Beijing and Washington had raised hopes that some pressure from tensions between the two biggest economies might ease, and the latest data have showed signs of improved demand for exports.
The virus outbreak raises the risk such optimism might be premature.
"According to our analysis of the spread of the SARS virus, which so far appears very similar to 2019-nCoV (the new virus), we expect increased downward pressure on China's growth, particularly in the services sector," Ting Lu and other analysts at Nomura in Hong Kong said in a commentary.
The growing number of global travelers has contributed to the spread of various diseases in recent years, including Middle East respiratory syndrome, the Ebola and Zika viruses, the plague, measles and other highly contagious illnesses.
The World Economic Forum estimates that pandemics — cross-border outbreaks like the flu that killed 50 million people a century ago — have the potential to cause an $570 billion in annual economic losses.
The 2014-16 Ebola virus epidemic caused losses amounting to over $2.2 billion, according to the World Bank. That includes a 40% decrease in the number of working Liberians at the height of the crisis, lower exports and harvests, and costs for combating the disease.
Apart from the human tragedy, such crises gobble up resources needed for other government spending, exacting a harsh toll on the poorest economies. In Africa, the loss of health care workers to Ebola resulted in thousands more deaths of mothers and babies, hindered work on other diseases such as preventing and treating malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, reduced vaccination rates and fewer surgeries, the World Bank said in a report.
Many survivors, meanwhile, suffer from lingering effects of the illnesses and the powerful drugs used to save their lives, becoming more vulnerable to hunger and other risks.
At the same time, increasingly sophisticated tools for collecting data and analyzing are aiding efforts to prepare for and cope with severe disease outbreaks.
In 2016, the World Bank set up a $500 million rapid response insurance fund, working with the WHO and insurance companies, to combat pandemics in developing countries. The fund uses "cat bonds," or catastrophe bonds, whose principal will be lost if the funds are needed to help deal with an outbreak. Private insurers have followed with products of their own meant to hedge against risks from such disasters.