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Foreign trade in figures

Thanks to its enormous trade surplus over the past few years, China has become the world's largest exporter and ranks second among the world’s largest importers. Despite its strict policies, the country is fairly open to foreign trade, which represented 37% of its GDP in 2022 (World Bank). In the same year, China remained the largest trader of goods throughout the world for the sixth consecutive year. China's main exports include telephones (7.7%), automatic data-processing machines (5.2%), electronic integrated circuits (4.3%), semiconductors (1.8%), and electronic accumulators (1.6%). On the other hand, the country mainly imports electronic integrated circuits (15.3%), petroleum oils (13.5%), iron ores (4.7%), petroleum gas (3.3%), and gold (2.8% - data Comtrade).

In 2022, exports were directed mostly towards the United States (16.2%), Hong Kong SAR, China (8.3%), Japan (4.8%), South Korea (4.5%), and Vietnam (4.1%); whereas imports came chiefly from South Korea (7.4%), Japan (6.8%), the United States (6.6%), Australia (5.2%), and Russia (4.2% - data Comtrade). In the same year, China's trade in goods with the ASEAN, the EU, and the U.S. respectively surged 15%, 5.6%, and 3.7% to CNY 6.52 trillion, CNY 5.65 trillion, and CNY 5.05 trillion. China's trade with countries along the Belt and Road rose 19.4% year-on-year and accounted for 32.9% of the nation's total foreign trade, up 3.2 percentage points. The country's trade with the other 14 members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership increased by 7.5% (data General Administration of Customs). On the 15th of November 2020, China signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with 14 other Indo-Pacific countries. This free trade agreement is the largest trade deal in history, covering 30 per cent of the global economy. It includes the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and ASEAN’s free trade agreement partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea). The RCEP covers goods, services, investment, economic and technical cooperation. It also creates new rules for electronic commerce, intellectual property, government procurement, competition, and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Trade has become an increasingly important part of China’s overall economy, and it has been a significant tool used for economic modernisation. As reported by WTO, in 2022, exports of goods and services reached USD 3.59 trillion and USD 424 billion, respectively (+7% and +8.1% year-on-year). Imports of goods totalled USD 2.71 trillion, and those of services USD 465 billion (+1% and +8.9% year-on-year). According to the World Bank, the overall balance of trade was positive by 3.2% of GDP (from +2.6% one year earlier). In 2023, the country's foreign trade stood at CNY 41.76 trillion (about USD 5.87 trillion ), according to preliminary figures from the General Administration of Customs (GAC). Exports grew 0.6% y-o-y to CNY 23.77 trillion, while imports edged down 0.3% from one year earlier to CNY 17.99 trillion.

 
Foreign Trade Values 20192020202120222023
Imports of goods (milions USD) 2,078,3862,065,9622,679,4122,706,5072,556,802
Exports of goods (milions USD) 2,499,4572,589,9523,316,0223,544,4343,380,024
Imports of services (milions USD) 500,680381,088426,998465,053551,995
Exports of services (milions USD) 283,192280,629394,273424,056381,121

Font: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign trade indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign trade (in % of GDP) 37.635.934.837.338.1
Trade balance (milions USD) 380,074392,993511,103562,706668,633
Trade Balance including service (milions USD) 87,905131,844358,573461,494576,330
Imports of goods and services (in % of GDP) 18.517.516.217.417.5
Exports of goods and services (in % of GDP) 19.118.418.619.920.7

Font: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20232024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) -0.32.52.03.03.0
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 3.04.41.63.93.7

Font: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated data

 
International economic cooperation
China is a member of the following international economic organisations: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (dialogue partner of ASEAN Plus Three), G-20, G-24 (observer), G-5, G-77, IMF, Pacific Alliance (observer), WTO, among others. For the full list of economic and other international organisations in which participates China click here. International organisation membership of China is also outlined here.
Free Trade Agreements
China is a member of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) signed on 15 November 2020. The complete and up-to-date list of Free Trade Agreements signed by China can be consulted here.
 

Main country partners

Main customers
(% of exports)
2023
Estats Units 14.8%
Hong Kong SAR, Xina 8.1%
Japó 4.7%
Corea del Sud 4.4%
Vietnam 4.1%
Mostrar més països 63.9%
Main suppliers
(% of imports)
2023
Estats Units 6.5%
Corea del Sud 6.3%
Japó 6.3%
Austràlia 6.1%
Rússia 5.1%
Mostrar més països 69.8%

Font: Comtrade, 2023. tableau-comtrade-note-arrondi.

 
 

Main products

3,593.6 milliards USD Main exports
Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular...Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks; other apparatus for the transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, incl. apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network [such as a local or wide area network]; parts thereof (excl. than transmission or reception apparatus of heading 8443, 8525, 8527 or 8528) 7.7%
Automatic data-processing machines and units...Automatic data-processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 5.2%
Electronic integrated circuits; parts thereofElectronic integrated circuits; parts thereof 4.3%
Diodes, transistors and similar semiconductor...Diodes, transistors and similar semiconductor devices; photosensitive semiconductor devices, incl. photovoltaic cells whether or not assembled in modules or made up into panels (excl. photovotaic generators); light emitting diodes; mounted piezoelectric crystals; parts thereof 1.8%
Electric accumulators, incl. separators therefor,...Electric accumulators, incl. separators therefor, whether or not square or rectangular; parts thereof (excl. spent and those of unhardened rubber or textiles) 1.6%
Other products 79.4%
2,716.0 milliards USD Main imports
Electronic integrated circuits; parts thereofElectronic integrated circuits; parts thereof 15.3%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 13.5%
Iron ores and concentrates, incl. roasted iron...Iron ores and concentrates, incl. roasted iron pyrites 4.7%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 3.3%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 2.8%
Other products 60.3%

Font: Comtrade, 2023. tableau-comtrade-note-arrondi.

 
 

To go further, check out our service title_service__flux-import-export.html-court.

 

Main services

317.3 milliards USD Main services exported in 2021
40.53%
27.39%
15.98%
4.86%
3.70%
3.57%
1.58%
1.44%
0.49%
0.45%
436.1 milliards USD Main services imported in 2021
33.63%
25.09%
12.16%
10.75%
9.17%
4.44%
2.23%
1.01%
0.76%
0.75%

Font: source-tableau-top-services, 2024. tableau-comtrade-note-arrondi.

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