China’s Top 10 Imports

China's Top 10 Imports

by Flagpictures.org

The People’s Republic of China imported US$2.135 trillion worth of goods from around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 9% increase since 2014 and a 15.8% uptick from 2017 to 2018.

From a continental perspective, 55.9% of China’s total imports by value in 2018 were purchased from fellow Asian countries. European trade partners accounted for 17.7% of imported goods bought by China. Smaller percentage of overall Chinese imports came from suppliers in North America (9.3%), Latin America (6.7%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbea, Australia and other Oceanian sources (5.7%) and Africa (4.6%).

Given China’s population of 1.385 billion people, its total $2.135 trillion in 2018 imports translates to roughly $1,500 in yearly product demand from every person in the Asian behemoth.

China’s Top 10 Imports

Top 10

The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in China’s import purchases during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into China.

  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: US$521.5 billion (24.4% of total imports)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: $347.8 billion (16.3%)
  3. Machinery including computers: $202.3 billion (9.5%)
  4. Ores, slag, ash: $135.9 billion (6.4%)
  5. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $102.5 billion (4.8%)
  6. Vehicles: $81.5 billion (3.8%)
  7. Plastics, plastic articles: $74.9 billion (3.5%)
  8. Organic chemicals: $67.4 billion (3.2%)
  9. Gems, precious metals: $62 billion (2.9%)
  10. Copper: $47.6 billion (2.2%)

China’s top 10 imports account for over three-quarters (77%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.

Imported mineral fuels including oil had the fastest-growing increase in value among the top 10 import categories, up 39.3% from 2017 to 2018.

In second place for expanding import purchases by China was the organic chemicals category via its 20.7% increase, trailed by Chinese imports of machinery including computers’ 19.3% gain the the 15.4% boost in copper imports.

The sole decliner among China’s top import categories was gems and precious metals via its -5.1% year-over-year retreat. That decline was mostly caused by smaller imports of gold on international markets.

Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more detailed view of imported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of China’s Most Valuable Import Products further down near the bottom of this article or under the adjacent product folder tabs.

Also see the section Searchable List of China’s Most Valuable Import Products further down near the bottom of this article.

Electrical

In 2018, Chinese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical products including consumer electronics.

  1. Integrated circuits/microassemblies: US$312.7 billion (up 19.7% from 2017)
  2. Phone system devices including smartphones: $48.9 billion (up 2.3%)
  3. Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $28.5 billion (up 1.3%)
  4. Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $15.8 billion (up 1.9%)
  5. Electrical capacitators: $12.6 billion (up 46.9%)
  6. Printed circuits: $12.4 billion (up 7.2%)
  7. TV/radio/radar device parts: $12.3 billion (down 0.0%)
  8. Electrical converters/power units: $12.2 billion (up 10.2%)
  9. Insulated wire/cable: $5.8 billion (up 11.0%)
  10. Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $5.6 billion (up 10.6%)

Among these import subcategories, Chinese purchases of electrical capacitators (up 46.9%), integrated circuits and microassemblies (up 19.7%) and insulated wire or cable (up 11%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among Chinese businesses and consumers.

Fuel

In 2018, Chinese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.

  1. Crude oil: US$239.2 billion (up 46% from 2017)
  2. Petroleum gases: $50 billion (up 51.6%)
  3. Processed petroleum oils: $20.1 billion (up 38.3%)
  4. Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $19.6 billion (up 5.3%)
  5. Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $9.2 billion (down -12.9%)
  6. Lignite: $4.9 billion (up 21.3%)
  7. Petroleum oil residues: $3.4 billion (up 35.9%)
  8. Asphalt/petroleum bitumen mixes: $635.2 million (down -67.9%)
  9. Electrical energy: $254.6 million (down -18%)
  10. Tar pitch, coke: $223.5 million (up 169.4%)

Among these import subcategories, Chinese purchases of tar pitch or coke (up 169.4%), petroleum gases (up 51.6%) and crude oil (up 46%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported fossil fuel among Chinese businesses and consumers.

Machinery

In 2018, Chinese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machines including computers.

  1. Computers, optical readers: US$31.3 billion (up 21% from 2017)
  2. Machinery for making semi-conductors: $30.6 billion (up 55.7%)
  3. Computer parts, accessories: $19 billion (up 29.9%)
  4. Miscellaneous machinery: $13.3 billion (up 7.4%)
  5. Taps, valves, similar appliances: $9 billion (up 16.7%)
  6. Printing machinery: $8.1 billion (up 5.8%)
  7. Turbo-jets: $6.7 billion (up 2.1%)
  8. Air or vacuum pumps: $6.2 billion (up 17.9%)
  9. Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $6.1 billion (up 12.5%)
  10. Liquid pumps and elevators: $5 billion (up 15.6%)

Among these import subcategories, Chinese purchases of machinery for making semi-conductors (up 55.7%), computer parts or accessories (up 29.9%) and computers including optical readers (up 21%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among Chinese businesses and consumers.

Ores

In 2018, Chinese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of ores, slag or ash.

  1. Iron ores, concentrates: US$75 billion (down -1.9% from 2017)
  2. Copper ores, concentrates: $32.7 billion (up 21.7%)
  3. Manganese ores, concentrates: $5.8 billion (up 45.5%)
  4. Aluminum ores, concentrates: $4.4 billion (up 30.7%)
  5. Precious metal ores, concentrates: $3.6 billion (up 22.3%)
  6. Zinc ores, concentrates: $3.2 billion (up 42.3%)
  7. Nickel ores, concentrates: $3 billion (up 42.9%)
  8. Chromium ores, concentrates: $2.9 billion (down -16.8%)
  9. Lead ores, concentrates: $1.7 billion (down -0.8%)
  10. Niobium/zirconium ores, concentrates: $1.1 billion (up 35.1%)

Among these import subcategories, Chinese purchases of ores and concentrates for manganese (up 45.5%), nickel (up 42.9%) and zinc (up 42.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported ores and concentrates among Chinese businesses and consumers.



 

Searchable List of China’s Most Valuable Import Products

At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the top Chinese import products are electronic circuits and microassemblies, crude oil, iron, cars, mobile phones then soya beans.

The following searchable table displays 200 of China’s most in-demand imported goods during 2018. Shown beside each product label is its total import value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2017.

RankChina's Import Product2018 Value (US$)Change
1Integrated circuits/microassemblies$312.7 billion+19.7%
2Crude oil$239.2 billion+46%
3Iron ores, concentrates$75 billion-1.9%
4Petroleum gases$50 billion+51.6%
5Cars$49.6 billion-0.7%
6Phone system devices including smartphones$48.9 billion+2.3%
7Gold (unwrought)$45.8 billion-10.9%
8Soya beans$38.1 billion-3.9%
9Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools$33.8 billion-9.4%
10Copper ores, concentrates$32.7 billion+21.7%
11Computers, optical readers$31.3 billion+21%
12Machinery for making semi-conductors$30.6 billion+55.7%
13Automobile parts/accessories$29.3 billion+8.2%
14Solar power diodes/semi-conductors$28.5 billion+1.3%
15Aircraft, spacecraft$27.6 billion+20.1%
16Refined copper, unwrought alloys$25.6 billion+24.3%
17Cyclic hydrocarbons$24.7 billion+24.3%
18Ethylene polymers$20.7 billion+22.4%
19Processed petroleum oils$20.1 billion+38.3%
20Coal, solid fuels made from coal$19.6 billion+5.3%
21Computer parts, accessories$19 billion+29.9%
22Medication mixes in dosage$18.1 billion+5.6%
23Lower-voltage switches, fuses$15.8 billion+1.9%
24Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)$15.8 billion+33.8%
25Acyclic alcohols$14 billion+19%
26Other measuring/testing machines$13.6 billion+24.3%
27Miscellaneous machinery$13.3 billion+7.4%
28Electrical capacitators$12.6 billion+46.9%
29Printed circuits$12.4 billion+7.2%
30TV/radio/radar device parts$12.3 billion0%
31Electrical converters/power units$12.2 billion+10.2%
32Rough wood$11 billion+10.6%
33Sawn wood$10.1 billion+0.6%
34Polyacetal/ether/carbonates$9.9 billion+15%
35Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$9.9 billion+70.3%
36Copper waste, scrap$9.4 billion+2.3%
37Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)$9.2 billion-12.9%
38Physical/chemical analysis tools$9.2 billion+14.2%
39Taps, valves, similar appliances$9 billion+16.7%
40Diamonds (unmounted/unset)$8.9 billion+11.6%
41Electro-medical equipment (e.g. xrays)$8.6 billion+16.4%
42Blood fractions (including antisera)$8.4 billion+19%
43Printing machinery$8.1 billion+5.8%
44Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates$7.7 billion+4.6%
45Synthetic rubber$7.6 billion-10.1%
46Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$7.3 billion+7.7%
47Acyclic hydrocarbons$7.1 billion+14.2%
48Propylene/olefin polymers$7 billion+8%
49Styrene polymers$6.9 billion+19.5%
50Turbo-jets$6.7 billion+2.1%
51Chemical industry products/residuals$6.3 billion+2%
52Air or vacuum pumps$6.2 billion+17.9%
53Transmission shafts, gears, clutches$6.1 billion+12.5%
54Iron ferroalloys$6.1 billion-5.7%
55Unrefined copper$5.9 billion+20%
56Manganese ores, concentrates$5.8 billion+45.5%
57Insulated wire/cable$5.8 billion+11%
58Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$5.6 billion+10.6%
59Yarn (85%+ cotton)$5.5 billion+8%
60Regulate/control instruments$5.5 billion+8.3%
61Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations$5.4 billion+20.4%
62Electrical machinery$5.4 billion+11.6%
63Liquid pumps and elevators$5 billion+15.6%
64Unrecorded sound media$5 billion-1.9%
65Electric storage batteries$4.9 billion+19.7%
66Lignite$4.9 billion+21.3%
67Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$4.7 billion+18%
68Frozen beef$4.7 billion+55.9%
69Microphones/headphones/amps$4.6 billion+0.8%
70Whole fish (frozen)$4.6 billion+22.5%
71TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras$4.5 billion-3%
72Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches$4.5 billion+12%
73Aluminum ores, concentrates$4.4 billion+30.7%
74Crustaceans (including lobsters)$4.4 billion+74.1%
75Paper/paperboard waste, scrap$4.3 billion-27%
76Piston engine parts$4 billion+9.4%
77Electric motors, generators$4 billion+0.9%
78Orthopedic appliances$3.8 billion+17.3%
79Lenses, prisms, mirrors$3.8 billion+0.5%
80Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers$3.8 billion+14.8%
81X-ray equipment$3.7 billion+13.8%
82Cobalt$3.7 billion+68.3%
83Metal-working machinery$3.7 billion+5.7%
84Miscellaneous plastic items$3.7 billion+9.2%
85Ball, roller bearings$3.7 billion+2.8%
86Precious metal ores, concentrates$3.6 billion+22.3%
87Natural rubber$3.6 billion-26.6%
88Petroleum oil residues$3.4 billion+35.9%
89Palm oil$3.4 billion-2.9%
90Rubber/plastic article making machines$3.4 billion+14.6%
91Heterocyclics, nucleic acids$3.4 billion+23.8%
92Zinc ores, concentrates$3.2 billion+42.3%
93Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers$3.2 billion+3.2%
94Wool (uncarded, uncombed)$3.2 billion+16.3%
95Engines (diesel)$3.2 billion+16.7%
96Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)$3.2 billion+44.8%
97Platinum (unwrought)$3.1 billion+29.7%
98Copper foil$3 billion+1.3%
99Nickel ores, concentrates$3 billion+42.9%
100Nickel (unwrought)$3 billion+11.6%
101Cases, handbags, wallets$2.9 billion+27.9%
102Liquid/gas checking instruments$2.9 billion+15.6%
103Chromium ores, concentrates$2.9 billion-16.8%
104Wine $2.9 billion+2.1%
105Self-adhesive plastic in rolls$2.8 billion+3.3%
106Chemical woodpulp (dissolving)$2.8 billion+9.2%
107Lifting/loading machinery$2.8 billion+6.4%
108Acrylic polymers$2.8 billion+18.4%
109Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters$2.8 billion+23.7%
110Temperature-change machines$2.7 billion+30.7%
111Other food preparations$2.7 billion+43.3%
112Cast/rolled glass in sheets$2.7 billion+25.8%
113Aircraft parts$2.7 billion+22.3%
114Polyamides$2.7 billion+9.9%
115Piston engines$2.7 billion+25.6%
116Aluminum waste, scrap$2.5 billion-11.3%
117Inedible meat flour$2.5 billion+2.7%
118Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)$2.5 billion+30.2%
119Miscellaneous iron or steel items$2.5 billion+8.9%
120Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream$2.5 billion+11.9%
121Electrical resistors$2.5 billion+13.2%
122Prepared adhesives, glues$2.4 billion+3.1%
123Zinc (unwrought)$2.4 billion+2.1%
124Hydrogen, rare gases$2.4 billion-16.1%
125Vulcanized rubber items$2.4 billion+5.3%
126Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$2.4 billion+15.4%
127Machinery parts$2.4 billion+25.4%
128Wrist/pocket watches (no precious metal case)$2.3 billion+17.5%
129Fuel wood, wood chips, sawdust$2.3 billion+18.5%
130Rape/colza seeds$2.2 billion+2.9%
131Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$2.2 billion-8.5%
132Flat-rolled stainless steel items$2.2 billion+53.1%
133Lubricant preparations$2.1 billion+7.1%
134Swine meat$2.1 billion-6.6%
135Miscellaneous engines, motors$2 billion+18.1%
136Flat-rolled other alloy steel products$2 billion+1.1%
137Other machine parts, accessories$2 billion+9.6%
138Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps$2 billion+26.7%
139Miscellaneous machine electrical parts$2 billion+3.5%
140Amino-resins$1.9 billion+14.2%
141Potassic fertilizers$1.9 billion+7.7%
142Chemicals used in electronics$1.9 billion+40.9%
143Footwear (leather)$1.8 billion+30%
144Footwear (textile)$1.8 billion+23.4%
145Radioactive chemical elements$1.8 billion+5.2%
146Interchangeable hand/machine tools$1.8 billion+5.6%
147Spray/dispersing mechanical appliances$1.8 billion+6%
148Other diagnostic/lab reagents$1.8 billion+15.7%
149Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)$1.7 billion+9.1%
150Barley$1.7 billion-6.9%
151Lead ores, concentrates$1.7 billion-0.8%
152Photographic chemicals$1.7 billion+7.2%
153Non-sublimed sulphur$1.7 billion+33.7%
154 Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines $1.6 billion+9.7%
155Polycarboxylic acids$1.6 billion+15.9%
156Other organic cleaning preparations$1.6 billion+11.1%
157Red meat offal$1.6 billion-26.2%
158Rice$1.6 billion-12.5%
159Phenols/phenol-alcohols$1.6 billion+46.6%
160Marble, other monument/building stone$1.6 billion-10.5%
161Electric water heaters, hair dryers$1.5 billion+33.4%
162Jewelry$1.5 billion+60%
163Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)$1.5 billion+23.7%
164Other animal leather$1.5 billion-6.4%
165Nickel matte, oxide sinters$1.5 billion+15.7%
166Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$1.5 billion+6%
167Apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums$1.5 billion+64.4%
168Vermiculite, perlite, other mineral substances$1.5 billion+50.9%
169Vinyl chloride polymers$1.5 billion-2.7%
170Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)$1.4 billion+23.9%
171Ethers$1.4 billion+13.8%
172Synthetic yarn woven fabrics$1.4 billion0%
173Nitrile-function compounds$1.4 billion+41.4%
174Uncoated kraft paper$1.4 billion+51.7%
175Cold-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$1.3 billion+3.8%
176Machine-tool for metal$1.3 billion+3.7%
177Miscellaneous furniture$1.3 billion+5.9%
178Synthetic filament yarn$1.3 billion+6.9%
179Sheep or goat meat$1.3 billion+49%
180Copper plates, sheets, strips$1.3 billion+12.6%
181Debur/sharpen/grind machine tools$1.3 billion+26.2%
182Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$1.3 billion+4.5%
183Bovine/equine rawhides, skins$1.3 billion-28.8%
184Connector/insulating parts$1.3 billion+11.4%
185Refrigerators, freezers$1.3 billion+19.4%
186Moluscs$1.3 billion+20.7%
187Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners$1.2 billion-12.5%
188Industrial fatty acids and alcohols$1.2 billion-3.8%
189Silver (unwrought)$1.2 billion-10.8%
190Material removal machine-tools$1.2 billion+5.2%
191Bovine/equine leather$1.2 billion-10.7%
192Moulding boxes/base$1.2 billion+0.7%
193Anti-knock/oxidation/gum inhibitors$1.2 billion+5.9%
194Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$1.2 billion+14.6%
195Electric ignition/start equipment$1.2 billion+7.6%
196Poultry meat$1.1 billion+10.5%
197Oil seeds$1.1 billion+31.4%
198Manioc/Jerusalem artichoke/sweet potato roots, tubers$1.1 billion-21.9%
199Niobium/zirconium ores, concentrates$1.1 billion+35.1%
200Coated paper$1.1 billion-2.8%

These 200 imported goods were worth a subtotal of US$1.888 trillion or 88.4% by value for all products imported into the People’s Republic during 2018.

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

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 1, 2019

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 1, 2019

Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on March 1, 2019