20 Apr 2011

Japan exports hit by disaster

7:21 pm on 20 April 2011

Japan's exports fell by 2.2% in March because of the effect of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit northeast Japan on 11 March.

It was first fall in exports in 16 months.

The finance ministry says vehicle exports, which normally account for 10% of all shipments overseas, are down nearly 28% while shipments of semiconductor products and electronics fell by 6.9%.

The BBC reports many of the small, family-run companies supplying components for these sectors were damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, disrupting the supply chain and making it difficult for Japanese manufacturers to get back on track.

The impact has been felt globally. Toyota factories in North America will not operate on Mondays and Fridays until June and are running at half capacity during the rest of the week.