Japan’s exports fell in March more than economists had expected. That is a sign that shipments will continue to weaken and hurt economic growth after last month’s earthquake and tsunami.
The natural disaster disrupted supply chains for many manufacturers and sparked a nuclear crisis.
Exports fell 2.2 percent in March from a year earlier. That was the first decline in 16 months. Imports rose 11.9 percent from a year earlier.
The official figures suggest Tokyo’s trade balance will swing to a deficit as some companies struggle with a shortage of electricity and needed parts.
Japan’s economy is likely to contract in the second quarter and then resume growing in the third quarter as efforts to rebuild the northeast of the country increase.
But damage to supply chains and factory output could continue, depriving the export-focused country of a vital contribution to gross domestic product and setting the stage for further stimulus measures by the central bank