Data Source: Ministry of Finance Japan
Data Source: Ministry of Finance Japan
Asia Observatory

02 December 2020

JAPAN: IMPORT FEWER PLYWOOD PANELS

Export uptick and government stimulus lifts GDP Japan’s GDP rose in the third quarter of 2020 helped by government stimulus that fueled a rise in consumer spending and a strong uptick in exports. Growth in the third quarter was the largest in half a century and beat all expectations however, the government has cautioned that the recovery is likely slow because of measures introduced to try and reduce the rate of spread of the corona virus. While this is good news it must be remembered that the current expansion only managed to claw back about half of the growth lost since last year.

The number of new Covid-19 cases is rising faster than anticipated and the government has reintroduced a range of measures which will discourage people from travelling and eating out. Businesses less pessimistic but brace for tough months ahead The November Business Sentiment Survey of Japanese manufacturers as well as service-sector firms found the level of pessimism was not as bad as over the past nine months. This was put down to the fact that the Japanese economy showed signs of breaking out of the pandemic driven recession. But executives in both sectors said they expect conditions will remain negative for many months to come.
September , Plywood imports After an encouraging rise in the volume of plywood (HS441210-39) imports in August, September marked the return to the downtrend that has been evident all year. September plywood imports were 30% down compared to September 2019 and were 24% below the volume of August imports. Indonesia saw an almost 40% decline in the volume of September plywood exports to Japan and Malaysia saw a 20% decline. Of the various categories imported HS441231 accounted for over 70% of imports with a further 5% each being of HS441233 and HS441234.
The volume of plywood imports into Japan has been falling for almost a decade and the rate of decline has accelerated in recent years. In the first three quarters of 2020 the volume of plywood imports was 10% below that in the same period in 2019. Each of the two main suppliers, Indonesia and Malaysia have lost market share to domestically manufactured plywood. Two other suppliers, China and more recently Vietnam, on the other hand, have managed to maintain market share. In related news, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) lowered its growth and inflation forecasts for the current fiscal year but stood by its view that the recovery outlook is looking better and as such will not consider additional stimulus measures at present. However, the BoJ said the economic outlook was uncertain as the pandemic continues to hit consumer spending and the resurgence of infections in Europe has undermined prospects for major recovery of exports.

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