From a continental perspective, half (49.8%) of China’s total exports by value in 2016 were delivered to other Asian trade partners.
North American importers purchased 21.2% of Chinese shipments while 18.5% worth arrived in European countries.
At 4.4%, a much smaller portion of Chinese exports were bought by importers in Africa.
China’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list highlighting 15 of China’s top trading partners in terms of export sales. That is, these countries imported the most Chinese shipments by dollar value during 2016. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Chinese exports.
- United States: US$388.1 billion (18.3% of total Chinese exports)
- Hong Kong: $292.2 billion (13.8%)
- Japan: $129.5 billion (6.1%)
- South Korea: $94.7 billion (4.5%)
- Germany: $65.8 billion (3.1%)
- Vietnam: $61.6 billion (2.9%)
- India: $58.9 billion (2.8%)
- Netherlands: $57.7 billion (2.7%)
- United Kingdom: $56.3 billion (2.7%)
- Singapore: $45.8 billion (2.2%)
- Taiwan: $40.4 billion (1.9%)
- Malaysia: $38.5 billion (1.8%)
- Thailand: $37.7 billion (1.8%)
- Australia: $37.6 billion (1.8%)
- Russia: $37.5 billion (1.8%)
Over two-thirds (68.1%) of Chinese exports in 2016 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
China increased its exports to Vietnam by the greatest percentage, up by 277.8% from 2009 to 2016. In second place was Thailand via its 183% gain followed by Russia (up 114.2%), India (up 98.6%), Taiwan (up 97%) and Malaysia (up 96.3%).
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
China incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- Taiwan: -US$99.3 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2016)
- South Korea: -$64.5 billion
- Switzerland: -$36.8 billion
- Australia: -$32.6 billion
- Brazil: -$23.5 billion
- Germany: -$20.3 billion
- Japan: -$16.3 billion
- Angola: -$12.2 billion
- Malaysia: -$10.6 billion
- Oman: -$9.8 billion
Among China’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Chinese deficits with Switzerland (up 759.8%), Germany (up 248.2%), Oman (up 110%) and Australia (up 73.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate China’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for China to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
China posted an overall trade surplus of $530.3 billion during 2016.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
China incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- Hong Kong: US$275.3 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2016)
- United States: $253.1 billion
- Netherlands: $48 billion
- India: $47.2 billion
- United Kingdom: $37.6 billion
- Vietnam: $24.4 billion
- Mexico: $22.2 billion
- United Arab Emirates: $20.5 billion
- Singapore: $19.9 billion
- Pakistan: $15.6 billion
Among China’s trading partners that cause the greatest positive trade balances, Chinese surpluses with Pakistan (up 265.8%), India (up 195.7%) and Mexico (up 163.2%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate China’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for China to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Chinese Trading Partners
China placed 149 corporations on the Forbes Global 2000 for 2015. 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 the China Trade Directory, the following Chinese companies ship products from China to its trading partners around the globe. Shown within parenthesis is the product category that the Chinese manufacturer specializes in.
- Fu Feng Co., Ltd. (full range of plastic gear products)
- AA Technology Co., Ltd (advanced electronic components)
- EPOLAB Chemical Industries Inc. (epoxy chemical compounds, adhesives)
- Seal King (foam tapes)
- Myday machinery Inc. (lathes)
- Shuz Tung Machinery Industrial Co. Ltd. (electronic equipment, machinery)
Taiwan & China Products Online provides comprehensive supplier listings for companies sitused in the People’s Republic encompassing both mainland China and its province of Taiwan.
- Shenzhen Yongerjia Industry Co., Ltd. (LED displays, other LED products)
- Apex Science & Engineering Corp. (infrared, LCD products)
- Yancheng Meiyi Arts & Crafts Factory (solar powered signs)
- Hei Full Industrial Co., Ltd. (food processing equipment)
- Tai Erh Enterprise Co., Ltd. (polyester fabrics)
- Asia Bicycle Trading Company (bicycles, parts and accessories)
See also China’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, Top Chinese Trade Balances, Highest Value Chinese Export Products, China’s Top 10 Imports and Highest Value Chinese Import Products
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 31, 2017
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 31, 2017
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 31, 2017
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 31, 2017
Wikipedia, List of Companies of China. Accessed on March 31, 2017
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 31, 2017
China Trade Directory, Database with China and Taiwan Manufacturers. Accessed on March 22, 2016
G.T. Internet Information Co., Ltd., Taiwan & China Products Online. Accessed on March 22, 2016