TOKYO - Japan's exports in 2020 plunged 11.1 percent from the previous year, marking the largest fall in 11 years, as the new coronavirus pandemic battered global demand for industrial products such as cars, government data showed Thursday.
The annual drop was the sharpest since a 33.1 percent dive logged in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis, according to a preliminary report by the Finance Ministry. Exports in 2020 stood at 68.41 trillion yen ($660 billion), the lowest level since 63.75 trillion yen in 2012.
By item, the country's car exports plummeted 20.0 percent from 2019, and those of auto parts declined 19.1 percent.
Imports dropped 13.8 percent to 67.73 trillion yen, the steepest decrease since a 15.8 percent slide in 2016, mainly due to the falling price of crude oil and other energy resources. The figure was the smallest since 66.04 trillion yen in 2016.
As a result, Japan marked a goods trade surplus of 674.73 billion yen, the first black ink in three years.
As overseas demand was dampened throughout last year by the global spread of the virus, first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, Japan's monthly exports posted double-digit percentage falls on year between March and August.
But in December alone, the Finance Ministry said, exports saw the first year-on-year rise in 25 months, in a sign that the initial impact of the pandemic has eased. They grew 2.0 percent from a year earlier to 6.71 trillion yen, ending the longest streak of monthly declines on record.
Imports in the reporting month were down 11.6 percent to 5.96 trillion yen, down for the 20th straight month, leading the country to post a goods trade surplus of 751.01 billion yen, the sixth consecutive month of black ink.
All figures were compiled on a customs-cleared basis.