China’s Top 10 Major Export Companies

Beijing at night

Beijing at night

Two gigantic oil and gas producers from the energy sector top our list showcasing 10 of China’s major export-oriented companies. Based on company asset values as of December 2018, also making the list were a pair of enterprises from the iron and steel industry plus a duo of heavy equipment manufacturers.

However, the leader in both sales and asset growth among these world-class Chinese businesses was iconic ecommerce portal Alibaba.

To give some context from an international trade perspective, the value of China’s exported goods appreciated by 2.5% from US$2.209 trillion in 2013 to $2.263 trillion reported for 2017. From 2016 to 2017, sales of Chinese exported products appreciated by 7.9%.

In the analysis below, we compare 10 of China’s major exports-related businesses based on asset values, sales and profitability. Also specified is the Chinese city where multinational has its headquarters. Excluded are Chinese financial institutions or multinationals headquartered in China’s Special Administrative Region, 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 December 2018 compared to 2017.

  1. PetroChina (oil, gas): US$381.1 billion, up 10.5% from 2017
  2. China Petroleum & Chemical/Sinopec (oil, gas): $249.9 billion, up 15.3%
  3. SAIC Motor (car/truck makers): $118.4 billion, up 39.3%
  4. Alibaba (global commerce): $114 billion, up 61.3%
  5. China Shenhua Energy (diversified metals): $91.2 billion, up 10.8%
  6. Fosun International (iron, steel): $82 billion, up 17.1%
  7. CRRC (heavy equipment): $59.2 billion, up 21.6%
  8. Baoshan Iron & Steel (iron, steel): $56.2 billion, up 40.5%
  9. China National Building (construction materials): $53.3 billion, up 0.1%
  10. China Shipbuilding Industry (heavy equipment): $32 billion, up 11.8%

The leading Chinese multinationals in terms of asset growth were global commerce leader Alibaba via its 61.3% advance from 2017 to December 2018. In second place was iron and steel producer Baoshan (up 40.5%) ahead of automobile maker SAIC Motor (up 39.3%) and heavy equipment firm CRRC (up 21.6%).


In terms of overall sales, behemoths from the oil and gas sectors placed number one and number two for greatest overall revenues at December 2018.

  1. China Petroleum & Chemical/Sinopec: US$326.6 billion, up 27.7% from 2017
  2. PetroChina: $282.4 billion, up 31.5%
  3. SAIC Motor: $136.6 billion, up 21.2%
  4. Baoshan Iron & Steel: $40.7 billion, up 52.1%
  5. Alibaba: $37.9 billion, up 76.4%
  6. China Shenhua Energy: $36.4 billion, up 37.4%
  7. CRRC: $31.3 billion, down -8.4%
  8. China National Building: $19 billion, up 1.1%
  9. Fosun International: $13.1 billion, up 17.8%
  10. China Shipbuilding Industry: $5.1 billion, down -37.7%

However, expanding their annual sales at the fastest rate were e-commerce giant Alibaba (up 76.4%), Baoshan Iron & Steel (up 51.1%) then coal miner and electricity seller China Shenhua Energy (up 37.4%).

Facing year-over-year sales declines were heavy equipment players China Shipbuilding Industry (down -37.7%) and CRRC (down -8.4%).


All 10 of China’s exports-related major businesses were profitable at December 2018. Yet heavy equipment company CRRC experienced a -5.3% shrinkage in its most recent profit amount compared to one year earlier.

  1. Alibaba: US$9.6 billion, up 68.1% from 2017
  2. China Petroleum & Chemical/Sinopec: $8 billion, up 14.3%
  3. China Shenhua Energy: $6.7 billion, up 97.1%
  4. SAIC Motor: $5.4 billion, up 12.5%
  5. PetroChina: $4.1 billion, up 241.7%
  6. Baoshan Iron & Steel: $3.1 billion, up 365%
  7. Fosun International: $2 billion, up 29.9%
  8. CRRC: $1.6 billion, down -5.3%
  9. China National Building: $482 million, up 0.4%
  10. China Shipbuilding Industry: $126 million, reversing a -$204 million loss

Growing their profits by triple-digit percentage increases were Baoshan Iron & Steel via its 365% gain and PetroChina’s with its 241.7% advance. Also posting robust profit improvements were China Shenhua Energy (up 97.1%), Alibaba (up 68.1%) plus iron and steel producer Fosun International (up 29.9%).

China Shipbuilding Industry furnished more good news by transitioning from -$204 million in red ink for 2017 to a $126 million profit at December 2018.


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 one of China’s other major cities, namely Shanghai.

  1. Alibaba: Hangzhou
  2. Baoshan Iron & Steel: Shanghai
  3. China National Building: Beijing
  4. China Petroleum & Chemical/Sinopec: Beijing
  5. China Shenhua Energy: Beijing
  6. China Shipbuilding Industry: Beijing
  7. CRRC: 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, 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. As well, the energy giant offers business services such as research and development, cash management and financing related to its principal businesses.

See also China’s Top 10 Exports, China’s Top 10 Imports, Largest Oil and Gas Export Companies, Top Chinese Trade Balances and China’s Exported Services

Research Sources:
Forbes Global 2000 individual company profiles, Example of largest China-based export company compiled for this study: PetroChina. Accessed on December 19, 2018

Forbes Global 2000 rankings list for China, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on December 19, 2018

Forbes 2017 Global 2000, The Largest Companies in China in 2017. Accessed on December 19, 2018

MarketWatch, China National Building Material Co. Ltd, Annual Financials. Accessed on December 19, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on December 19, 2018

Wikipedia, List of largest Chinese companies. Accessed on December 19, 2018