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Japan’s total exports to other Asian economies hit a record high in July.

The Finance Ministry said Thursday in a preliminary report that exports to the rest of Asia grew 21.2 percent in July from a year earlier to 2.6 trillion yen, the highest since comparable data were made available in 1947.

Imports were up 9.9 percent to 1.88 trillion yen, the second-highest on record, driving the trade surplus with the rest of Asia up 62.9 percent to 751.2 billion yen, the third-highest on record, it said.

Among Asian economies, exports to China, excluding Hong Kong, expanded 22.0 percent to 716.83 billion yen. Imports from China, excluding Hong Kong, grew 12.5 percent to 842.37 billion yen, lowering the trade deficit 22.2 percent to 125.55 billion yen.

China is Japan’s second-largest export market after the United States, and Japan imports more from China than anywhere else.

Japan’s exports and imports to the rest of the world climbed to the second-highest levels on record in July, with exports up 14.3 percent to 5.31 trillion yen and imports up 8.2 percent to 4.17 trillion yen.

The customs-cleared trade surplus jumped 44.2 percent to 1.14 trillion yen for the 13th straight monthly increase.

Private-sector economists said the trade data show an upbeat environment for Japan’s exports, especially in Asia, easing earlier concern over a slowdown in the U.S. and Chinese economies.

“Financial markets had grown concerned that Japan’s economic recovery may be undermined by a slowdown in the U.S. and Chinese economies,” said Ryutaro Kono, chief economist at BNP Paribas Securities (Japan) Ltd.

“But the data eased such concern as it shows an expansionary trend in Japan’s exports, notably to China and other Asian economies,” he said.

According to the ministry report, Japan’s overall exports were led by semiconductor manufacturing equipment, up 31.7 percent, steel, up 22.7 percent, and automobiles, up 7.6 percent.

Main import items were oil products, rising 53.1 percent, coal, up 52.2 percent, and crude oil, up 22.5 percent.

Exports to the rest of Asia were led by steel, up 21.6 percent. Among the top import items from the region were oil products, up 75.5 percent.

The trade surplus with the United States expanded 12.6 percent to 639.5 billion yen, with exports up 3.4 percent to 1.2 trillion yen and imports down 5.3 percent to 559.4 billion yen.

Exports of auto parts to the U.S. market rose 14.4 percent and those of audiovisual equipment jumped 87.3 percent, while auto exports dropped 4.5 percent.

Beef imports slumped 63.9 percent due to Japan’s ban on U.S. beef imports following the first discovery of mad cow disease in the country in December.

The trade surplus with the European Union was up 28.8 percent to 247.1 billion yen, with exports up 9.8 percent to 778 billion yen. Imports from the 25-nation block increased 2.8 percent to 531 billion yen, the third-highest on record.

Exports of audiovisual parts to the EU market grew 55.6 percent and those of automobiles rose 19.3 percent. Imports of pharmaceuticals were up 33.1 percent.

The trade data are measured on a customs-cleared basis before adjustment for seasonal factors.

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