The economic impact of Japan’s earthquake
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Jeremy Hobson: Well oil prices have fallen to around 101 dollars a barrel in overseas trading after this morning’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Let’s get more on the economic impact in Asia from the BBC’s Ben Richardson. He’s with us from Singapore. Hi Ben.
Ben Richardson: Hello Jeremy.
Hobson: So tell us what’s going on with the companies that have been affected by this earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Richardson: Well it’s still very early. But a lot of them are taking measures. We spoke with Toyota, which is the world’s biggest carmaker now. They said that they’ve put together a task force that is looking at the situation at various plants. And they’re evacuating employees from various plants. They’re also checking in with their suppliers. We spoke to Sony, the electronics maker. And they’ve got six factories in the northeast, which make semi-conductors. They’re also checking what it is at the moment. They say they produce lasers there and all the employees have been safely evacuated. We also spoke to a Singaporean shipping company — which ships not into the main port in the north, but Yokohama, one of the biggest ports in Japan. And they said that there has been a lot of power there in their terminal and obviously ships are backing up out of sea, so this is going to have an impact there as well. It’s going to take longer for them to get their goods in and off-loaded.
Hobson: And obviously the main focus right now is the human impact of this disaster, but there’s an economic impact as well. Tell us about the economic effects that are going on right now across Asia.
Richardson: Yeah, well markets are what they are. While the rest of us are watching sort of slack-jaw to what’s happening, markets are reacting. There was a very quick sell off in the yen and the stock markets out of Japan. The futures for the Japanese market at the moment are down or have been as low as about 5 percent off. So it does look as if the stock markets across the globe are going to be affected by this. People are very worried, really, about the economic situation within Japan. The economy had slowed and had contracted by more than many people expected. And though things were looking up in the second half of this year, the real question is how Japan is going to manage to reubild, especially when it’s got one of the highest debt levels in the industrialized world.
Hobson: The BBC’s Ben Richardson in Singapore. Thanks Ben.
Richardson: Cheers, thank you very much.
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