Japan repositions its textile and textile machinery trade position

Japan repositions its textile and textile machinery trade position

Due to the trade regrouping among the ASEAN countries, Japan is also repositioning its trade relations with other countries and regions, e.g. a FTA Free Trade Agreement with the EU. We review the trade position of the country and with a focus on textiles, clothing and textile machinery

The Basics

Japan has a surface are of 377900 km2 and a population of 2011 of EUR 127.9 million and a GDP Gross Domestic Product of EUR 4206.5 billion for the same year translating into a GDP per capita of EUR 32883.4 million. As we are all aware the real GDP growth was negative in 2008 (-1.2 %), 2009 (-6.3 %), then positive in 2010 (4.0 %) and again negative in 2011 (-0.5 %). The rate of inflation is since 2009 negative (-1.4 %) and up to 2011 (-0.4 %).

If we compare the share of GDP segments, we note, that since 1991 – 2009 the largest segment services shows a share of 58.8 %, in 2001 it increased to 67.3 % and in 2009 the figure was 71.9 %. In turn the industry share decreased in the mentioned years from 38.9 %, to 31.0 %, respectively 26.8 % and agriculture from 2.3 % to 1.7 %, respectively 1.4 %.

The Japanese worldwide trade in goods developed as follows: Exports were earmarked 2008 with a value of EUR 500.8 billion to be followed by 2009 of EUR 388.9 billion and 2010 to EUR 542.0 billion, and imports were in 2008 EUR 505.1 billion, 2009 382.3 billion and 2010 EUR 506.8 billion. The EU 27 imported from Japan in 2009 goods of a value of EUR 57.0 billion, 2010 EUR 65.8 billion and in 2011 EUR 67.5 billion. The EU exports were 35.9 billion in 2009, EUR 43.9 billion in 2010 and 2011 they amounted to EUR 49.0 billion.

The textile relevant facts

Firstly, we look at the trade development of textiles with the EU. Japanese manufacturers delivered in 2007 textiles with a value of EUR 470.2 million (0.6 % of total EU textile imports), in 2009 the figure was EUR 341.5 million (0.6 %) and in 2011 EUR 503.8 million (0.7 %).  In turn EU manufacturers exported in 2007 textiles of a value of EUR 521.4 million (1.2 % of total EU textile exports), 2009 the total amounted to EUR 379.4 million (1.1 %) and in 2011 the figure was EUR 483.7 million (1.0 %). Japan is the second largest trade partner of the EU after China.

If we look at the latest statistics of the Japanese Ministry of Finance of October 2012, and with a focus on textiles, we note that Japan exported 4.3 % less textile yarns and fabrics or totally JPY 52276 million or a share of 1.0 % of all exports. On the other hand the imported yarns and fabrics amounted to JNY 64171 million (+0.3 %) and had a share of 1.1 % of all Japanese imports. There are no figures available for clothing exports.  The imports of clothing and accessories amounted to JPY 272397 million or a share of 4.8 % of all imports and an increase of 6.9 %. Also handbags were imported in the amount of JPY 39660 million or a share of 0.7 % % of all imports and an increase of 18.4 %.

Where Japanese textiles went

To the USA went textile yarns and Fabrics in October 2012 in the amount of JPY 2947 million (-9.5 % against the same months of 2011) or a share of 0.3 % of all textile exports. The textile exports to the EU amounted to JPY 3969 million (-15.9 %) or a share of 0.8 %. With destination to Asia went JPY 41579 million (-3.0 %) or a share of 1.5 %. China received Japanese textile yarns and fabrics valued at JPY 22115 million (-2.7 %) or a share of 2.3 % and with destination ASEAN went JPY 10861 million (- 8.5 %) or a share of 1.3 %. The exports to the Middle East amounted to JPY 2465 million (+ 11.9 %).  Japanese textile export went also to Russia in the amount of JPY 105 million (- 8.5 %) and a share of 0.1 %.

The Japanese textile imports from the USA amounted to JPY 1628.0 million (+7.8 %) and clothing and accessories in the value of JPY 1367,0 million ( +7.8 %), from the EU JPY 4094.0 (+4.1 %),  from Asian countries JPY 56809 million (- 0.5 %), thereof from China JPY 38404 million ( +2.3 %) and from ASEAN countries JPY 10590 million  (-0.1 %), further from the Middle East  JPY 580.0 million ( + 52,5 %) and from Russia JPY 18 million  (+309.1 %). 

The clothing and accessories imports from the USA totalled JPY 1367 million (+17.7 %) and handbags JPY 309 million (+ 19.7 %). From the EU clothing and accessories imports totalled JPY 10002 million (+ 5 %) and bags JPY 4108 million (+27.4 %). The imports of clothing and accessories from Asia amounted to JPY 258848 million (+6.6 %) and bags JPY 24706 million (+ 17.1 %), thereof from China JPY 216728 million (+ 5 %) and bags JPY 21607 million (+14.3 %) and from ASEAN countries JPY 34750 million (+15.7 %) and bags 2209 million (+40.7 %). From the Middle East Japan imported for JPY 16 million clothing and accessories. 

The textile machinery figures

The total exports of Japanese textile machinery amounted in October to JPY 17’639 (-15.6 %) and thereof went JPY 440 million (+1.5 %) to the U.S.A., followed by the ones exported to the EU of a value of JPY 381 million (-40.7 %) to the EU and to Asian countries went JPY 15925 million (-14.8 %) and thereof JPY 10980 million (-12.2 %) to China and JPY 2171 million to ASEAN states. The machine exports to the Middle East amounted to JPY 598 million (-86.5 %) and to Russia in the amount of JPY 11 million (-20.5 %). There were no imports of textile machinery to Japan which shows the strong position of domestic manufacturers.

What the figures tell us

Both the clothing and accessories and textile machinery sectors do enjoy a unique position as to compare to other nations enjoying both export and import positions. The latest Japanese figures show however that also Japan suffers from the decline in worldwide trade due to the financial and debt crisis in 2012. But it shows also the stronghold for Japanese products in China and Asia, as well as in certain EU countries. Japan has tried to diversify its exports market in the last few years and is seeking further FTAs, for example FTA negotiations with the EU are just about to start, which would facilitate the export position of textiles and clothing as well as for textile machinery. The latter will, once the FTA is paragraphed and ratified, have an eroding effect on European manufacturers of these sectors and certainly will be the subject of objections by the sectors.


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