China’s Top 10 Major Export Companies

Beijing at night

Beijing at night

Two behemoths from the energy sector head the list of China’s top 10 major export-oriented companies, a list determined based on company asset value as of May 2017.

Also making the list were two companies each from the iron and steel and diversified metals industries while ecommerce portal Alibaba became the leading asset gainer.

In the analysis below, we compare the top 10 export businesses based on asset values, sales and profitability. Also specified is the Chinese city where each of these major multinationals has its headquarters. Excluded are Chinese financial institutions or multinationals with headquarters in Hong Kong.

China’s Top 10 Major Export Companies


Below are China’s biggest export companies organized by asset value. Shown within parentheses is the primary industry in which each company operates. Also shown is the change in asset value as of May 2017 compared to 2016.

  1. PetroChina (oil, gas): US$344.9 billion, down -6.5% from 2016
  2. China Petroleum & Chemical (oil, gas): $216.7 billion, down -3.1%
  3. SAIC Motor (car/truck makers): $85 billion, up 7.9%
  4. China Shenhua Energy (diversified metals): $82.3 billion, down -3.5%
  5. Alibaba (global commerce): $70.7 billion, up 25.8%
  6. Fosun International (iron, steel): $70.1 billion, up 12.3%
  7. CRRC Group (heavy equipment): $48.7 billion, up 1.4%
  8. Baoshan Iron & Steel (iron, steel): $40 billion, up 10.8%
  9. China Coal Energy (diversified metals): $34.8 billion, down -12.1%
  10. China Shipbuilding Industry (heavy equipment): $28.6 billion, down -12.7%

The top three Chinese multinationals in terms of asset growth were global commerce leader Alibaba (up 26.8%) followed by two iron and steel producers Fosun International (up 12.3%) and Baoshan (up 10.8%).

Posting the most severe asset deteriorations were heavy equipment maker China Shipbuilding Industry (down -12.7%) and diversified metals provider (down -12.1%).


China’s two sales leaders in terms of export-related transactions compete in the oil and gas sectors. Energy companies are vulnerable to softer oil prices.

  1. China Petroleum & Chemical: US$255.7 billion, down -9.8% from 2016
  2. PetroChina: $214.8 billion, down -21.8%
  3. SAIC Motor: $112.7 billion, up 10.6%
  4. CRRC Group: $34.2 billion, down -10.6%
  5. Baoshan Iron & Steel: $26.8 billion, up 2.9%
  6. China Shenhua Energy: $26.5 billion, down -2.9%
  7. Alibaba (global commerce): $21.5 billion, up 43.3%
  8. Fosun International: $11.1 billion, down -11%
  9. China Coal Energy: $8.8 billion, down -4.1%
  10. China Shipbuilding Industry: $8.2 billion, down -16.4%

In contrast, ecommerce portal Alibaba boosted its sales by 43.3% as of May 2017 compared to 2016. Two other multinationals grew their sales over the 12-month period: SAIC Motor (up 10.6%) and Baoshan Iron & Steel (up 2.9%).

Sales declines ranged from -21.8% for PetroChina to -2.9% for diversified metals producer China Shenhua Energy.


Highlighted by PetroChina’s -78.9% profit dip, three of China’s top 10 export companies posted deteriorating profitability in the most recent period at May 2017.

  1. China Petroleum & Chemical: US$7 billion, up 37.3% from 2016
  2. Alibaba: $5.7 billion, down -48.1%
  3. SAIC Motor: $4.8 billion, up 4.3%
  4. China Shenhua Energy: $3.4 billion, up 30.8%
  5. CRRC Group: $1.7 billion, down -11.1%
  6. Fosun International: $1.5 billion, up 18.5%
  7. PetroChina: $1.2 billion, down -78.9%
  8. Baoshan Iron & Steel: $666.7 million, up 314.1%
  9. China Coal Energy: $301.6 million, reversing a -$400.3 million loss
  10. China Shipbuilding Industry: -$204 million, down -65.1%

Still, heavy equipment maker China Shipbuilding Industry was the only one of these top Chinese multinationals suffered a loss in the latest May 2017 period.

Leading the profit improvements was China Coal Energy which came back from a -$400.3 million loss in 2016, while Baoshan Iron & Steel multiplied its year-over-year black ink by 314.1%.


Six of the 10 largest Chinese export companies are based in Beijing, the capital city for the People’s Republic of China. Three other conglomerates have their headquarters in Shanghai.

  1. Alibaba: Hangzhou
  2. Baoshan Iron & Steel: Shanghai
  3. China Coal Energy: Beijing
  4. China Petroleum & Chemical: Beijing
  5. China Shenhua Energy: Beijing
  6. China Shipbuilding Industry: Beijing
  7. CSR: Beijing
  8. Fosun International: Shanghai
  9. PetroChina: Beijing
  10. SAIC Motor: Shanghai


Note some of the above company offerings may include products beyond the principal category shown within parenthesis under the Assets tab.

For example, China Coal Energy not only produces coal, but also manufactures coal-based chemicals and coal-mining equipment and is involved in power generation. Similarly, the biggest Chinese business PetroChina is well-known for supplying crude oil and natural gas but also refines petroleum products, creates chemical goods and transports natural gas, crude oil and refined petroleum.

See also China’s Top 10 Imports, China’s Top Trading Partners, Top Chinese Trade Balances and China’s Top 10 Exports

Research Sources:
Forbes 2017 Global 2000 individual company profiles, Example of largest China-based export company compiled for this study: PetroChina. Accessed on January 22, 2018

Forbes 2017 Global 2000 rankings list, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on January 22, 2018

Forbes 2017 Global 2000, The Largest Companies in China. Accessed on January 22, 2018

Forbes 2016 Global 2000, The Largest Companies in China. Accessed on January 22, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on January 22, 2018

Wikipedia, List of largest Chinese companies. Accessed on January 22, 2018