China is the world’s second largest trading nation behind the US – leading the world in exports and coming in second for imports. From 2009-2011 its trade to GDP ratio was 53.1 percent, while its trade per capita was $2,413.
Since its accession into the WTO in 2001, China‘s share in global trade has doubled – accounting for 10.38 percent of the world’s merchandise trade exports and 9.43 percent of merchandise trade imports.
For many countries around the world, China is rapidly becoming their most important bilateral trade partner. In 2011, they were the largest exporting/importing partner for 32 and 34 countries respectively.
However, there have been concerns over large trade imbalances between China and the rest of the world. The US in particular has the largest trade deficit in the world with China at $315 billion, more than three times what it was a decade ago.
There have also been a growing number of trade disputes brought against, mainly for dumping, unfair subsidies by the Chinese government, intellectual property and the valuation of the yuan. Nonetheless its WTO entry ensures that the country will remain a key figure in international trade.
Domestically, the Chinese government has been keen to reduce the economy’s reliance on exports and focus on internal consumption. In March 2013, China’s new leadership announced that they would move to recalibrate the economy, acknowledging that there is a “growing conflict between downward pressure on economic growth and excess production capacity.”
China’s Import and Export Indicators and Statistics at a Glance (2012)
Total value of exports: US$2.05 trillion
Primary exports - commodities: electrical and other machinery, including data processing equipment, apparel, radio telephone handsets, textiles, integrated circuits
Primary exports partners: US (17.2 of total exports), Hong Kong (15.8 percent), Japan (7.4 percent), South Korea (4.3 percent), Germany (3.4 percent)
Total value of imports: US$1.817 trillion
Primary imports - commodities: electrical and other machinery, oil and mineral fuels, optical and medical equipment, metal ores, motor vehicles
Primary imports partners: Japan (9.8 percent of total imports), South Korea (9.3 percent), US (7.3 percent), Germany (5.1 percent), Australia (4.6 percent)