Exports from Japan fell at a slower rate than forecast in July, marking an improvement on the previous month as shipments to Asia dipped amid global trade tensions.

Outbound shipments from the country slipped for an eighth consecutive month in July, down 1.6 per cent year on year, according to Ministry of Finance released on Monday, but slowing from the 6.7 per cent fall in the previous month. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a 2.2 per cent dip. 

Exports to Asia fell 8.3 per cent year on year, with Singapore posting the biggest drop, down 22.3 per cent . Shipments to China, Japan’s biggest market in the region, decreased by 9.3 per cent.

The decline in imports also eased, to 1.2 per cent, in the third-consecutive month of falls. Economists had pointed to a 2.7 per cent drop.

Japan recorded a trade deficit of ¥249.6bn ($2.3bn) for the month.

Tensions between Japan and South Korea simmered in July after Tokyo threatened rigid checks on sales of three chemicals crucial to South Korean chip and display makers. The curbs were a response to a disagreement over compensation for South Korean victims of enforced labour during the second world war.

Exports to South Korea fell 6.9 per cent in July.

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