China’s Top Trading Partners

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The world’s largest exporter by value, China shipped US$2.272 trillion worth of products around the globe in 2017. That dollar figure represents roughly 14.2% of overall global exports estimated at $15.952 trillion one year earlier in 2016.

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.

At 4.2%, a smaller portion of Chinese exports were bought by importers in Latin America (excluding Mexico) plus the Caribbean with another 4.1% going to Africa.

China’s Top Trading Partners

Top 15

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 2017. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Chinese exports.

  1. United States: US$431.7 billion (19% of total Chinese exports)
  2. Hong Kong: $281 billion (12.4%)
  3. Japan: $137.4 billion (6%)
  4. South Korea: $102.8 billion (4.5%)
  5. Vietnam: $72.1 billion (3.2%)
  6. Germany: $71.2 billion (3.1%)
  7. India: $67.9 billion (3%)
  8. Netherlands: $67.3 billion (3%)
  9. United Kingdom: $57 billion (2.5%)
  10. Singapore: $45.7 billion (2%)
  11. Taiwan: $43.9 billion (1.9%)
  12. Russia: $43.1 billion (1.9%)
  13. Malaysia: $42 billion (1.8%)
  14. Australia: $41.6 billion (1.8%)
  15. Thailand: $38.8 billion (1.7%)

Over two-thirds (67.9%) of Chinese exports in 2017 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.

Hong Kong was the only top importers that decreased its purchases from China from 2016 to 2017, down in value by -2.2%. Among the other 14 countries, gains ranged from a minimum of 2.5% for United Kingdom up to 18% for Vietnam.

Deficits

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:

  1. Taiwan: -US$110.9 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2017)
  2. South Korea: -$74.7 billion
  3. Australia: -$53.1 billion
  4. Switzerland: -$29.8 billion
  5. Brazil: -$29.4 billion
  6. Japan: -$28.1 billion
  7. Germany: -$25.7 billion
  8. Angola: -$18.1 billion
  9. Saudi Arabia: -$13.4 billion
  10. Malaysia: -$12 billion

Among China’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Chinese deficits with Saudi Arabia (up 170%), Japan (up 71.5%) and Australia (up 57.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

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.

Surpluses

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.

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:

  1. United States: US$276.8 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2017)
  2. Hong Kong: $273.6 billion
  3. Netherlands: $56.1 billion
  4. India: $51.6 billion
  5. United Kingdom: $34.7 billion
  6. Mexico: $24.2 billion
  7. Vietnam: $21.7 billion
  8. United Arab Emirates: $16.6 billion
  9. Pakistan: $16.5 billion
  10. Spain: $15 billion

Among China’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Chinese surpluses with India (up 10.6%), United States (up 10.5%) and Mexico (up 9.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

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

Companies Servicing Chinese Trading Partners

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 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 Imports, China’s Top 10 Exports, 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 April 21, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on April 21, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on April 21, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 21, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of China. Accessed on April 21, 2018

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 21, 2018

China Trade Directory, Database with China and Taiwan Manufacturers. Accessed on April 21, 2018

G.T. Internet Information Co., Ltd., Taiwan & China Products Online. Accessed on April 21, 2018