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Exporters to Japan are trying to establish the impact of the earthquake and tsunami on supply chains, amid fears of a fall in demand from New Zealand’s fourth largest trading partner, according to Stuff.co.nz.

While much of Japan’s industry appears to have seen little impact from Friday’s earthquake, the tsunami has devastated regions in the highly industrialised North.

Japan’s planned rolling power cuts are also likely to hit industry across the country.

This morning New Zealand’s major exporters were still focused on assessing the level of disruption.

Don Everitt, marketing manager for New Zealand King Salmon, told Radio New Zealand that the company was still taking orders from Japan, where it exports around 800 tonnes of salmon a year, but expected disruption.

”We are still waiting to hear what the effect might be for the business and find out whether the supply chain that we rely on is operating as normal. We think probably there will be some problems over the next few days getting orders through.”

Stephen Jacobi, executive director for the NZ International Business Forum, says there is likely to be significant disruption to businesses which had distribution hubs in the north of the country.

New Zealand’s largest export to Japan is aluminium, followed by fresh fruit, cheese and casein.

Typically New Zealand exports around $800 million worth of aluminium to New Zealand to Japan each year from the smelter at Tiwai Peninsula near Bluff, although the figure dropped by more than 50% last year because of problems at the smelter.

A spokeswoman for New Zealand Aluminium Smelters says Japan is the group’s largest market, typically buying about 60% of its total production. The spokeswoman was not able to comment on the likely impact of the earthquake.

Total exports to Japan in 2010 were worth $3.38 billion.

Dairy giant Fonterra says Japan is ”an important market” but that it was too early to say what the impact of the earthquake and tsunami might be.

Craig Ebert, senior economist at Bank of New Zealand, says the disruption to the Japanese economy is likely to be significant, from the direct devastation, the disruption to the country’s power supply and the impact on government finances which were ”already looking dreadful” before Friday’s disaster. — Source: Stuff.co.nz

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