Japan disaster aftermath: continued trade disruptions

Japan’s triple disasters in March — earthquake, tsunami and crippled nuclear reactors — and the resultant electricity shortages have hit Japan’s economy hard and continue to disrupt manufacturing and supply chains worldwide, prompting Japan’s government to address this issue directly with global trade groups.

According to the International Business Times, about 60 countries and regions, fearful of radiation contamination, have imposed import restrictions on Japanese products.  Addressing these concerns, the Japanese government will be going into full PR mode with visits to importers and shipping agents around the world — including those in the United States.  The purpose of the trip is to “‘disseminate correct information'” about the effect of the nuclear plant crisis on Japanese exports of agricultural and industrial products.

The three disasters in the world’s third largest economy have seriously curtailed industrial production, resulting in a decline of exports in March, about 2.2% less than a year ago.  As reported in The New York Times, although Japan is still running a trade surplus, analysts predict that its economy may not begin to rebound until later in 2011 when reconstruction spending hits and manufacturing levels and electricity supplies increase back to pre-quake levels.  Nevertheless, “pain and uncertainty remain intense, particularly in the automobile and electronics industries.”

This pain contiues to be very real for US importers.  As noted in The Journal of Commerce, Johnson Controls, the Wisconsin-based maker of automobile batteries and interior systems, anticipates a half billion dollar hit on 3rd quarter revenues, due to manufacturing interruptions in Japan.

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