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Foreign trade figures of Japan

Foreign Trade in Figures

Foreign trade is an essential element of the Japanese economy, but the country is not fully open and imposes extensive non-tariff barriers, especially in the agricultural sector. Japan is the world's 4th largest exporter and fifth-largest importer of goods, and foreign trade accounts for 31% of the country's GDP (World Bank). Japan mainly exports motor vehicles (12.6%) being the second exporter of cars worldwide, electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies (4.5%), auto parts and accessories (4.2%), and ships and boats (1.7%). The country's main imports include petroleum oils (6.8%), petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons (5.4%), transmission apparatus for radio-telephony (3.9%), automatic data processing machines (3.1%), and electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies (3%).

Japan’s main partners are China (22%), the United States (18.5%), South Korea (7%), Hong Kong (5%), and Thailand (4%). The country mainly imports from China (25.8%), the U.S. (11.3%), Australia (5.6%), South Korea (4.2%) and Thailand (3.7%). Japan is the EU’s second-biggest trading partner in Asia after China, and together they both account for about a quarter of the world's GDP. The two parties signed an Economic Partnership Agreement, which entered into force in 2019. Moreover, Japan signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), arguably the largest free trade agreement in history (its signatories include China, Australia, South Korea, etc., cumulating about 30% of global GDP). The RCEP agreement entered into force on 1 January 2022.

The country traditionally has a large trade surplus; however, in recent years the balance turned null. That was mainly due to plummeting shipments to China and regional markets, as the global pandemic-induced crisis took its toll on the trade-reliant economy. According to WTO, Japan's exports of goods reached USD 641.3 billion (-9% year-on-year) in 2020, while imports amounted to USD 635.4 billion (-11.8% y-o-y). Concerning the service sector, exports decreased 22.9% to USD 156.3 billion, whereas imports lost 10.5% (USD 201.7 billion). According to figures from the Ministry of Finance, in the first six months of 2021 Japanese exports reached USD 346.2 billion, with imports totalling USD 337.7 billion.

 
Foreign Trade Values 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 606,927671,434748,488720,957635,460
Exports of Goods (million USD) 644,933698,367738,143705,564641,319
Imports of Services (million USD) 184,710190,822201,377204,384182,711
Exports of Services (million USD) 173,821181,599189,404202,891156,351

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 31.334.436.634.8n/a
Trade Balance (million USD) 51,16343,83610,5871,36128,806
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 40,44437,6361,405-8,615-6,200
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -1.23.33.8-0.4n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1.66.63.8-1.4n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 15.316.818.317.4n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 16.117.618.317.4n/a

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 2022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 4.43.63.62.91.9
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 4.92.02.32.02.1

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Japan is a member of the following international economic organisations: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (dialogue partner of ASEAN Plus Three), G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, G-20, IMF, OECD, among others. For the full list of economic and other international organisations in which participates Japan click here. International organisation membership of Japan is also outlined here.
Free Trade Agreements
Japan is a member of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) signed on 15 November 2020. The complete and up-to-date list of Free Trade Agreements signed by Japan can be consulted here.
 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2021
China 21.6%
United States 18.0%
South Korea 6.9%
Hong Kong SAR, China 4.7%
Thailand 4.4%
See More Countries 44.4%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2021
China 24.0%
United States 10.7%
Australia 6.8%
South Korea 4.2%
Saudi Arabia 3.6%
See More Countries 50.7%

Source: Comtrade, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

Main Products

757.1 bn USD of products exported in 2021
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 11.3%
Electronic integrated circuits; parts thereofElectronic integrated circuits; parts thereof 4.5%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles...Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 4.3%
Machines and apparatus of a kind used solely or...Machines and apparatus of a kind used solely or principally for the manufacture of semiconductor boules or wafers, semiconductor devices, electronic integrated circuits or flat panel displays; machines and apparatus specified in note 9 C to chapter 84; parts and accessories, n.e.s. 4.0%
Self-propelled bulldozers, angledozers, graders,...Self-propelled bulldozers, angledozers, graders, levellers, scrapers, mechanical shovels, excavators, shovel loaders, tamping machines and roadrollers 1.5%
See More Products 74.4%
772.3 bn USD of products imported in 2021
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 8.2%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 5.9%
Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular...Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks; other apparatus for the transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, incl. apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network [such as a local or wide area network]; parts thereof (excl. than transmission or reception apparatus of heading 8443, 8525, 8527 or 8528) 3.7%
Electronic integrated circuits; parts thereofElectronic integrated circuits; parts thereof 3.3%
Coal; briquettes, ovoids and similar solid fuels...Coal; briquettes, ovoids and similar solid fuels manufactured from coal 3.3%
See More Products 75.7%

Source: Comtrade, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

 

Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: November 2022