China’s Top 10 Exports

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Located in East Asia near key trading partners including Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, India and Singapore, the People’s Republic of China shipped US$2.272 trillion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount reflects a 2.8% gain since 2013 and an 8.3% increase from 2016 to 2017.

From January to March 2018, China’s exported goods were valued at $544.7 billion. This three-month metric puts Chinese exports on track for an annualized $2.179 trillion estimated for all 2018.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, China’s exported goods and services represent 19.6% of total Chinese economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, about half (48.5%) of Chinese exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 22% were sold to North American importers. China shipped another 18.9% worth to clients in Europe, 4.2% to Latin America (excluding Mexico) plus the Caribbean with 4.1% of China’s total exported goods arriving in Africa.

Given China’s population of 1.379 billion people, its total $2.272 trillion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $1,650 for every resident in the East Asian sovereign state.

China’s unemployment rate was 3.9% as of December 2017 down from 4.02% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.

China’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Chinese global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from China.

  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: US$599 billion (26.4% of total exports)
  2. Machinery including computers: $382.9 billion (16.9%)
  3. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $89.8 billion (4%)
  4. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $73.6 billion (3.2%)
  5. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $72 billion (3.2%)
  6. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $70.6 billion (3.1%)
  7. Plastics, plastic articles: $70.6 billion (3.1%)
  8. Vehicles: $67.4 billion (3%)
  9. Articles of iron or steel: $57.3 billion (2.5%)
  10. Toys, games: $55.3 billion (2.4%)

Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of China’s Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.

China’s top 10 exports accounted for about two-thirds (67.7%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Toys and games represent the fastest-growing among China’s top 10 export categories from 2016 to 2017, up 26.4%.

In second place for improving export sales was the 13.3% increase for the plastics and plastic articles category.

Made-in-China vehicles posted the third-fastest gain in value up 12% year over year, closely f0ollowed by machinery including computers up by 11.4%.

The only decliner among the top 10 Chinese exports was knitted or crocheted clothing and accessories which decreased by -3.3%

Advantages

Overall China posted a $430.8 billion trade surplus in 2017 down by -15.5% from $509.7 billion during 2016 but up by 66.3% from $259 billion 5 years earlier in 2013.

The following types of Chinese product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Machinery including computers: US$213.1 billion (Up by 8.7% since 2016)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: $143.5 billion (Up by 2.3%)
  3. Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $86.1 billion (Up by 2.2%)
  4. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $69.8 billion (Up by 1.9%)
  5. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $69.2 billion (Down by -4%)
  6. Toys, games: $53.2 billion (Up by 27.2%)
  7. Articles of iron or steel: $47.3 billion (Up by 11.7%)
  8. Footwear: $44.8 billion (Up by 1.5%)
  9. Leather/animal gut articles: $26.5 billion (Up by 5.3%)
  10. Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $26 billion (Up by 3.6%)

China has highly positive net exports in the international trade of machinery including computers. In turn, these cashflows indicate China’s strong competitive advantages under the machinery-related category.

Opportunities

Below are exports from China that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country China’s goods trail Chinese importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US-$212.1 billion (Up by 41.7% since 2016)
  2. Ores, slag, ash: -$124.7 billion (Up by 32.3%)
  3. Oil seeds: -$41.9 billion (Up by 17.5%)
  4. Copper: -$34.7 billion (Up by 26.4%)
  5. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$26.8 billion (Up by 6.2%)
  6. Aircraft, spacecraft: -$22.5 billion (Up by 15.8%)
  7. Woodpulp: -$21.1 billion (Up by 23.1%)
  8. Pharmaceuticals: -$17.9 billion (Up by 30%)
  9. Vehicles: -$11.9 billion (Up by 4.5%)
  10. Wood: -$9.7 billion (Up by 59.7%)

China has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels-related products particularly crude oil, petroleum gas and coal.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate China’s competitive disadvantages in the international mineral fuels-related market, but also represent key opportunities for China to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.

Companies

Chinese Export Companies

China placed 149 corporations on the Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Chinese export companies that Forbes included:

  • PetroChina (oil, gas)
  • Sinopec-China Petroleum (oil, gas)
  • SAIC Motor (cars, trucks)
  • Dongfeng Motor Group (cars, trucks)
  • BYD (cars, trucks)
  • Gree Electric Appliances (household appliances)
  • Midea Group Co. Ltd. (household appliances)
  • Tsingtao Brewery (beverages)
  • Sinopharm Group (pharmaceuticals)
  • Aluminum Corporation of China (aluminum)
  • Dongfang Electric (electrical equipment)

According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of leading Chinese exporters:

  • APLL (beddings, clothing)
  • UPS SCS China (chairs, beddings)
  • Winners Products Engineering (cooking appliances, sheets, charcoal)
  • Maersk Logistics China (footwear, bedding, clothing)
  • Carven Industries (furniture, building stone)


 

Searchable List of China’s Most Valuable Export Products

At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, China’s top export products are mobile phones followed by computers then integrated electronic circuits.

The following searchable table displays 200 of the most in-demand goods shipped from the People’s Republic during 2017. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2016.

RankChinese Export Product2017 Value (US$)Change
1Mobile phones, other phone devices $219.4 billion+9%
2Computers, optical readers$142.2 billion+13.7%
3Integrated circuits/microassemblies$66.5 billion+8.8%
4Computer parts, accessories$32.9 billion+27.4%
5TV receivers/monitors/projectors$31.5 billion+11.5%
6Automobile parts/accessories$31 billion+9.8%
7Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs$29 billion-3.2%
8Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools$28.4 billion-1.1%
9Cases, handbags, wallets$26.9 billion+7.9%
10Solar power diodes/semi-conductors$26.8 billion+0.6%
11Miscellaneous furniture$26.7 billion+3%
12Processed petroleum oils$25.5 billion+31.5%
13Electrical converters/power units$25.3 billion+4.1%
14Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)$24.9 billion+0.3%
15Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys$24.3 billion+32%
16Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)$23.5 billion+7.3%
17Insulated wire/cable$22.2 billion+6.2%
18Footwear (rubber or plastic)$21.6 billion+0.8%
19Electric water heaters, hair dryers$19.6 billion+7.1%
20Printing machinery$18.1 billion-3.3%
21Miscellaneous plastic items$17.9 billion+7.8%
22Cruise/cargo ships, barges$17.9 billion+0.8%
23Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)$17.3 billion-1.7%
24Microphones/headphones/amps$16.3 billion+8.8%
25Women's clothing (knit or crochet)$15.2 billion-4.8%
26Lower-voltage switches, fuses$15 billion+8.3%
27Air conditioners$14.7 billion+12.4%
28Taps, valves, similar appliances$14.7 billion+9.3%
29Rubber tires (new)$14.2 billion+9.9%
30Table games, bowling equipment$14 billion+29.3%
31Printed circuits$14 billion+9.1%
32Air or vacuum pumps$13.7 billion+7.7%
33Footwear (textile)$13.5 billion+8.5%
34TV/radio/radar device parts$13.1 billion+14%
35Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$12.4 billion+17.9%
36Synthetic yarn woven fabrics$12.1 billion+6.3%
37Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)$12 billion-3.5%
38Electric storage batteries$11.7 billion+14.9%
39Jewelry$11.1 billion-15.1%
40Electrical machinery$10.9 billion+20.7%
41Miscellaneous iron and steel structures$10.8 billion+3.1%
42Electric motors, generators$10.8 billion+3.2%
43Sports equipment$9.7 billion+5.3%
44Pneumatic hand tool$9.7 billion+14.5%
45Filament/discharge lamps$9.2 billion+91.8%
46TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras$9.1 billion-3.1%
47Footwear (leather)$9.1 billion+0.4%
48Other than warp-knit fabrics$9 billion+14.6%
49Base metal mountings, fittings$9 billion+21.1%
50Women's coats, jackets (not knit or crochet)$9 billion+30.1%
51Refrigerators, freezers$9 billion+13.4%
52Flat-rolled other alloy steel products$8.7 billion+14.8%
53Mattresses, quilts$8.5 billion+9.6%
54Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$8.5 billion+9.3%
55Transportation containers$8.4 billion+98.3%
56Plastic tableware, kitchenware, toiletry$8.3 billion+8.8%
57T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)$8.2 billion-5.2%
58Linens$8.1 billion-1.9%
59Miscellaneous iron or steel items$7.8 billion+12.6%
60Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$7.7 billion+11.2%
61Woven cotton fabrics$7.7 billion-2.8%
62Machinery parts$7.4 billion+22%
63Heterocyclics, nucleic acids$7.3 billion+16.9%
64Cars$7.2 billion+46.1%
65Liquid pumps and elevators$7 billion+9.7%
66Transmission shafts, gears, clutches$6.7 billion+6.9%
67Motorcycles$6.7 billion+11.7%
68Iron and steel tables, household items$6.6 billion+19.9%
69Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$6.6 billion+12%
70ALERT!$6.2 billion+36.2%
71Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$6.1 billion+15.4%
72Alloy steel bars, rods$6 billion-46%
73Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)$5.9 billion+7.5%
74Men's coats, jackets (not knit or crochet)$5.8 billion+9.7%
75Men's suits,trousers (knit or crochet)$5.8 billion-7.7%
76Miscellaneous articles, dress patterns$5.8 billion+6%
77Carnival items, magic tricks$5.8 billion+49.8%
78Stockings, hosiery (knit or crochet)$5.7 billion+6.3%
79Electromechanic domestic appliances$5.6 billion+11.5%
80Porcelain/china household articles$5.6 billion+10.9%
81Motorcycle parts/accessories$5.5 billion+3%
82Miscellaneous machinery$5.3 billion+17.8%
83Piston engine parts$5.3 billion+6.4%
84Polyacetal/ether/carbonates$5.2 billion+22.7%
85Flat-rolled stainless steel items$5.2 billion+21.1%
86Aluminum plates, sheets, strips$5.2 billion+38%
87Women's underwear, pajamas (knit or crochet)$5.2 billion-3.8%
88Textile fabrics with plastics$5.1 billion+6.5%
89Laminated wood (including plywood, veneer panels)$5.1 billion-3.3%
90Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers$5.1 billion+11.9%
91Ball, roller bearings$5.1 billion+10.8%
92Monument/building stones, art$4.9 billion-14.5%
93Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides$4.8 billion+28.5%
94Temperature-change machines$4.6 billion-4.4%
95Unglazed ceramic tiles$4.6 billion+160.1%
96Synthetic filament yarn$4.6 billion+16.7%
97Ceramic sinks, baths$4.5 billion+49.1%
98Telecommunication receivers$4.5 billion-6.5%
99Iron or steel tubes, pipes$4.4 billion+12.1%
100Fish fillets, pieces$4.4 billion+3.9%
101Moulding boxes/base$4.4 billion+9.9%
102Vacuum cleaners$4.4 billion+19%
103Plastic tile or roll coverings$4.3 billion+26.2%
104Regulate/control instruments$4.3 billion+30.2%
105Electric motor parts$4.3 billion+12.1%
106Unrecorded sound media$4.3 billion-19.7%
107Electrical capacitators$4.2 billion+5.1%
108Lifting/loading machinery$4.2 billion+3.5%
109Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters$4.2 billion+2.3%
110Crustaceans, molluscs (preserved/prepared)$4.1 billion+20%
111Iron or steel pipe fittings$4.1 billion+11.7%
112Paper containers, cellulose wadding$4.1 billion+10%
113Bras, corsets (not knit or crochet)$4 billion-2.8%
114Rubber/plastic article making machines$4 billion+17.5%
115Garments from special fabric (not knit or crochet)$4 billion-1.7%
116Iron and steel stoves, barbecues$4 billion+14.6%
117Dried vegetables, powder$4 billion+22.8%
118Brooms, brushes$4 billion+4.9%
119Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)$4 billion+41.1%
120Turbo-jets$4 billion+2.5%
121Chemical industry products/residuals$3.9 billion+20.1%
122Other measuring/testing machines$3.9 billion+17.5%
123Tracksuits, swimwear (not knit or crochet)$3.9 billion+1.5%
124Locks, lock-keys$3.9 billion-1.6%
125Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates$3.8 billion+13.3%
126Video recording equipment$3.8 billion-0.4%
127Chemicals used in electronics$3.8 billion+17.6%
128Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches$3.7 billion+10.5%
129Blankets, travel rugs$3.7 billion+8.9%
130Aluminum foil (thin)$3.6 billion+12.5%
131Fertilizer mixes$3.6 billion+8.2%
132Washing machines$3.6 billion-5.1%
133Furskin clothing and accessories$3.6 billion+8.1%
134Trailers$3.6 billion+9.3%
135Spray/dispersing mechanical appliances$3.5 billion+12.2%
136Light vessels, fire boats, floating docks$3.4 billion+18.2%
137Trucks$3.4 billion+20.6%
138Pile/terry fabrics$3.4 billion+16.8%
139Moluscs$3.4 billion-7.5%
140Electric sound/visual signal bells or alarms$3.3 billion-0.1%
141Electric generating sets, converters$3.3 billion-0.7%
142Bridge structures, parts$3.3 billion+11.6%
143Concrete/artificial stone items$3.3 billion+56.7%
144Artificial flowers, fruits$3.3 billion+43.9%
145Coated paper$3.2 billion-3.9%
146Interchangeable hand/machine tools$3.2 billion+20.8%
147Derricks, cranes$3.2 billion-21.1%
148Provitamins, vitamins$3.2 billion+46%
149Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles$3.1 billion+0.4%
150Antibiotics$3.1 billion+4%
151Amino-compounds (oxygen)$3.1 billion+9.4%
152Fish, caviar (preserved/prepared)$3.1 billion+6.4%
153Medication mixes in dosage$3.1 billion+11.2%
154Woven fabrics (artificial staple fibers)$3 billion+4.9%
155Spectacles, goggles$3 billion+5.9%
156Household glassware$3 billion+1.8%
157Coiled other alloy steel bars, rods$3 billion-17.7%
158Miscellaneous aluminum items$3 billion+4.1%
159Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes$3 billion+11.5%
160Mechano-therapy appliances$2.9 billion+12.3%
161Wide knit or crochet fabrics$2.9 billion+16.6%
162Men's shirts (not knit or crochet)$2.9 billion-8.1%
163Self-adhesive plastic in rolls$2.9 billion+6.9%
164Magnets including electro-magnets$2.8 billion+11%
165Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots$2.7 billion-13%
166Miscellaneous preserved fruits$2.7 billion+8.9%
167Whole fish (frozen)$2.7 billion-0.6%
168Sort/screen/washing machinery$2.7 billion+9.6%
169Portable electric lamps$2.7 billion-12.1%
170Carboxylic acids$2.7 billion+24.5%
171Knitted/crocheted hats, other headgear$2.6 billion-1.6%
172Wigs, false beards, eyelashes$2.6 billion-2.9%
173Synthetic organic coloring$2.6 billion-0.8%
174Coated/laminated non-wovens$2.6 billion+2.6%
175Piston engines$2.6 billion+10.3%
176Gloves, mitts (knit or crochet)$2.5 billion+13.1%
177Insoles, heel cushions$2.5 billion+9.7%
178Radar, radio communication items$2.5 billion-25.5%
179Miscellaneous heterocyclics$2.5 billion+15.7%
180Men's underwear, pajamas (knit or crochet)$2.5 billion-3.8%
181Aluminum household items$2.5 billion+7.1%
182Wrist/pocket watches (no precious metal case)$2.5 billion+1.2%
183Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$2.5 billion+13.6%
184Aluminum bars/rods$2.5 billion-34.8%
185Miscellaneous wooden articles$2.4 billion+2.4%
186Camp items including tents, sails$2.4 billion+8.5%
187Safety glasses$2.4 billion+2.6%
188Infant clothing (knit or crochet)$2.4 billion-0.5%
189Curtains, drapes, blinds$2.4 billion+5.4%
190Umbrellas$2.4 billion-4%
191Other coloring matter, luminophores$2.4 billion+56.7%
192Glass fibers$2.3 billion+10%
193Heterocyclics, oxygen$2.3 billion+9.3%
194Miscellaneous hand tools$2.3 billion+6.8%
195Woven fabrics (85%+ cotton)$2.3 billion+1.4%
196Lenses, prisms, mirrors$2.3 billion+9.3%
197Vulcanized rubber items$2.3 billion+6.8%
198Fork-lift trucks$2.3 billion+15.9%
199Other organo-inorganic compounds$2.2 billion+19.1%
200Woven fabrics (mixed)$2.2 billion+10.2%

These 200 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$1.848 trillion or 81.4% by value for all products exported from China during 2017.

See also China’s Top 10 Imports, China’s Top Trading Partners, Top Chinese Trade Balances and China’s Top 10 Major Export Companies

Research Sources:
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 30, 2018

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 30, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on July 30, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 30, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on July 30, 2018

Wikipedia, China. Accessed on July 30, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of China. Accessed on July 30, 2018

Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on July 30, 2018