Integrated electronic circuits, crude oil, iron ores, smartphones and cars were among the 20 highest value Chinese import products in 2017.
The most valuable Chinese imports also include liquid crystal, laser and optical tools, automotive parts and solar power diodes. Copper is one area where resource-rich China’s domestic supply lags demand, which explains why both refined copper as well as raw copper ores and concentrates appear on the top 20 list.
The following list shows on which product categories Chinese importers spent the most. Unlike most information currently available on the web, the items below are detailed at the 4-digit tariff code level. This of granularity can help entrepreneurs identify more precisely which products in which the People’s Republic has strong demand but competitive disadvantages compared with other nations. Innovation can transform these disadvantages into lucrative business opportunities.
For the most recent four-digit HTS code data, please see the link to China’s Top 10 Imports article in the See also paragraph above Research Sources below.
Highest Value Chinese Import Products
Below are the 20 highest value import products delivered to Chinese importers in 2017. Shown within brackets for each item is the percentage change in value over the 5-year period starting from 2013.
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: US$258.6 billion (Up 11.4% from 2013 to 2017)
- Crude oil: $162.2 billion (Down -26.2%)
- Iron ores, concentrates: $76.2 billion (Down -28.3%)
- Cars: $49.9 billion (Up 5.2%)
- Phone system devices including smartphones: $47.8 billion (Up 1.8%)
- Soya beans: $39.6 billion (Up 4.3%)
- Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools: $37.2 billion (Down -32.9%)
- Petroleum gases: $33 billion (Up 33.5%)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $27.9 billion (Down -4.7%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $27.1 billion (Up 12.1%)
- Copper ores, concentrates: $26.1 billion (Up 33.8%)
- Computers, optical readers: $26 billion (Down -10.5%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $23.7 billion (Up 13.5%)
- Refined copper, unwrought alloys: $20.6 billion (Down -13.9%)
- Cyclic hydrocarbons: $19.8 billion (Down -16.9%)
- Machinery for making semi-conductors: $19.6 billion (Up 134.3%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $18.5 billion (Down -28.6%)
- Medication mixes in dosage: $17.2 billion (Up 58.6%)
- Ethylene polymers: $16.9 billion (Up 14.1%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $15.5 billion (Up 8.2%)
Among these products, imports of machinery for making semi-conductors accounted for the greatest increase in China’s spending via a 134.3% gain from 2013 to 2017.
In second place were Chinese imports of medication mixes in dosage, up 58.6%.
Copper ores and concentrates showed a respectable 33.8% gain closely followed by a 33.5% uptick for imported petroleum gases.
Leading China’s import decliners were liquid crystal, laser or optical tools (down -32.9%), coal including solid fuels made from coal (down -28.6%), iron ores or concentrates (down -28.3%) and crude oil (down -26.2%).
See also China’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, Top Chinese Trade Balances, China’s Top 10 Imports and China’s Top 10 Exports
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 21, 2018
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports and World Population, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on April 21, 2018
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on April 21, 2018