Asia, the manufacturing powerhouse of the last few decades, is experiencing a plunge in exports unprecedented in modern history, the Washington Post reports. Japan, the world’s second-largest economy, reported yesterday that exports dipped 27% in November, while Thailand’s exports shed 19%, the most in 17 years. Taiwan’s exports fell 23% and China reported its biggest monthly decline in 7 years.
As much as half of China’s trade involves importing parts and materials from its neighbors, assembling them cheaply, and exporting finished goods, so declining demand for Chinese goods has rolled through other Asian economies. Declining auto demand has also caused chaos, as $3.6 billion in auto parts exports have evaporated in India, while Toyota announced yesterday that it would post a loss for the first time in 70 years.