POLL-Japan's Dec exports to fall at fastest pace in 2 years, Tokyo CPI steady

* reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=cpurl://apps.cp./Apps/econ-polls?RIC=JPEXPY%3DE C I trade poll data

* reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=cpurl://apps.cp./Apps/econ-polls?RIC=JPCPIT=ECI cpi poll data

* Dec exports f'cast -1.9 pct yr/yr vs +0.1 pct in Nov

* Tokyo January core-CPI seen steady

TOKYO, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Japan's exports in December likely fell at their fastest pace in more than two years, a Reuters poll showed on Friday, suggesting that slowing global demand and the U.S.-China trade war are starting to hurt the export-reliant economy.

Exports in December are forecast to have fallen 1.9 percent from a year earlier - the biggest fall since October 2016, the poll of 16 economists showed. Shipments edged up 0.1 percent in November.

The poll found December imports rose 3.7 percent from a year earlier, slowing from 12.5 percent in November, and put the trade deficit at 29.5 billion yen ($269.8 million) last month.

"Both value and volume of exports are weakening," said Yosuke Yasui, senior economist at Japan Research Institute. "Shipments to China are slowing down, which is the factor behind an expected fall in exports."

The finance ministry is due to release the trade data at 8:50 a.m. on Jan. 23 (2350 GMT, Jan. 22).

Next week's data also includes inflation readings. Tokyo's core consumer price index (CPI), which includes oil products but excludes fresh food prices, likely rose 0.9 percent in January, matching the pace in December, the poll showed.

The Tokyo-area's core CPI is available a month before nationwide core CPI, which slowed to a seven-month low of 0.7 percent in December.

"Energy prices were probably little changed because price gains in electricity and gas likely offset price falls in oil-related products," said Shinke Yoshiki, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute. "On the other hand, prices in non-energy items remain sluggish."

The internal affairs ministry will publish Tokyo's consumer prices at 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 25 (2330 GMT on Jan. 24)

The Bank of Japan is expected to keep its short-term interest rate at minus 0.1 percent and the 10-year government bond yield target at around zero percent at its policy meeting next week, the poll found.

But the central bank may cut its price forecasts and warn of heightened global uncertainties at its Jan. 22-23, sources told Reuters.

Analysts expect the economy to rebound after it contracted at the sharpest pace in four years in the third quarter, but there are risks from global trade woes and uncertainties over Britain's exit from the EU. (Reporting by Kaori Kaneko Editing by Jacqueline Wong)