Japanese exports rose more than forecast in April, providing support for an economy that’s expanded for two straight quarters after a recession in 2014.

The value of overseas shipments rose 8 percent from a year earlier, the Ministry of Finance said on Monday, compared with a median estimate for a 6 percent increase. Imports slid 4.2 percent, leaving a 53.4 billion yen ($440 million) trade deficit. Japan’s exports exceeded imports in March for the first time in almost three years.

Building strength in large exporting companies has been one of the key strengths of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies as the yen’s decline boosts the competitiveness of Japanese products overseas. The International Monetary Fund said on May 22 that weaker-than-expected growth in China and the U.S. could trip Japan’s export-led recovery.

Shipments to the U.S. rose 21 percent, and those to China were up 2.4 percent from a year earlier.

Japan’s economy expanded 0.6 percent from the previous quarter in the three months through March, beating forecasts, with net exports subtracting 0.2 percentage point from growth.

The International Monetary Fund said Japan’s economy will grow about 1 percent in 2015 and 1.25 percent in 2016 due to recovery in exports and stronger domestic consumption in a statement.

Source: Bloomberg