Year over year, the overall cost of China’s imports rose 1.5% from $2.676 trillion in 2021.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2022, the Chinese yuan has depreciated by -1.8% against the US dollar since 2018 and decreased by -4.5% from 2021 to 2022. China’s weaker local currency makes China’s imports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively more expensive when converted starting from charges in Chinese yuan.
Domestically, China’s inflation rate for average consumer prices increased by 2.167% from 2021 to 2022–up from 0.853% one year earlier.
Mainland China’s biggest export products by value in 2022 were led by electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies, crude oil, iron ores and concentrates, petroleum gases, then gold. In aggregate, those major exports accounted for almost two-fifths (39.7%) of the China’s overall exports sales. That percentage suggests a fairly concentrated range of exported commodities.
China’s Top Imported Products Suppliers
The latest available country-specific data shows that 58.9% of products imported into mainland China were supplied by exporters in: Taiwan (8.8% of China’s global total), South Korea (7.4%), Japan (6.8%), United States of America (6.6%), Australia (5.2%), China (4.5%), Russia (4.2%), Germany (4.1%), Malaysia (4%), Brazil (also 4%), Vietnam (3.2%) and Saudi Arabia (2.9%).
From a continental perspective, 54.9% of mainland China’s total imports by value in 2022 were purchased from fellow Asian countries. European trade partners accounted for another 18% of imported goods bought by China.
Smaller percentage of overall Chinese imports came from suppliers in North America (8.8%), Latin America (7.9%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Australia and other Oceanian sources (6%), then Africa (4.3%).
Given China’s population of 1.4 billion people, its total $2.716 trillion in 2022 imports translates to roughly $1,900 in yearly product demand from every person in the juggernaut Asian economy. That per-capita average exceeds the $1,700 for 2021.
China’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in China’s import purchases during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into China.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$644.7 billion (23.7% of total imports)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $535.3 billion (19.7%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $224.7 billion (8.3%)
- Machinery including computers: $202.1 billion (7.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $103.7 billion (3.8%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $82 billion (3%)
- Vehicles: $80.8 billion (3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $75.2 billion (2.8%)
- Copper: $68.7 billion (2.5%)
- Oil seeds: $68.6 billion (2.5%)
China’s top 10 imports account for over three-quarters (76.8%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Imported mineral fuels including oil posted the biggest increase among China’s top 10 import categories, up 35.9% from 2021 to 2022.
In second place were imported gems and precious metals (up 34%). China’s accelerated purchases of imported gold propelled the gems and precious metals category.
China’s imports of oil seeds went up 14% while coppers rose 4%.
The severest decliner among China’s top import categories was for optical, technical and medical apparatus via a -24.9% drop from 2021 to 2022.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more detailed view of imported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the sections below plus the section Searchable List of China’s Most Valuable Import Products further down near the bottom of this article or under the adjacent product category folder tabs.
China’s Top Imports of Electrical Products
In 2022, Chinese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical products including consumer electronics.
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: US$416.5 billion (down -4% from 2021)
- Recorded media: $39.8 billion (2021 data unavailable)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $32.5 billion (down -2.5%)
- Phone devices including smartphones: $23.6 billion (down -57.6%)
- TV/radio/radar device parts: $18.8 billion (up 3.3%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $15 billion (down -13.7%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $12.2 billion (down -11.5%)
- Printed circuits: $10.7 billion (down -12.5%)
- Electrical capacitators: $10.4 billion (down -23.1%)
- Electrical machinery: $6.5 billion (down -7.4%)
Among these import subcategories, Chinese purchases of parts for television, radio and radar devices via a 3.3% upturn from 2021.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among Chinese businesses and consumers.
China’s Top Imports of Mineral Fuels and Related Products
In 2022, Chinese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Crude oil: US$365.5 billion (up 41.6% from 2021)
- Petroleum gases: $90.7 billion (up 48.2%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $30.3 billion (up 11.9%)
- Processed petroleum oils: $19.6 billion (up 17.4%)
- Lignite: $12.3 billion (up 37%)
- Asphalt/petroleum bitumen mixes: $7.7 billion (up 3.2%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $6.5 billion (up 71.2%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $1.7 billion (down -81.7%)
- Electrical energy: $289.1 million (up 16.4%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $214.4 million (down -52.4%)
Among these import subcategories, Chinese purchases of petroleum oil residues (up 71.2%), petroleum gases (up 48.2%) then crude oil (up 41.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2021 to 2022.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported fossil fuel among Chinese businesses and consumers.
China’s Top Imports of Ores, Slag or Ash
In 2022, Chinese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of ores, slag or ash.
- Iron ores, concentrates: US$128.1 billion (down -29.9% from 2021)
- Copper ores, concentrates: $56.3 billion (down -0.8%)
- Aluminum ores, concentrates: $7.4 billion (up 43.8%)
- Precious metal ores, concentrates: $6.6 billion (up 14.8%)
- Manganese ores, concentrates: $5.8 billion (up 17.3%)
- Zinc ores, concentrates: $4.8 billion (up 20.7%)
- Nickel ores, concentrates: $4.5 billion (up 2.6%)
- Chromium ores, concentrates: $3.5 billion (up 34.5%)
- Tin ores, concentrates: $2 billion (up 53.7%)
- Niobium/zirconium ores, concentrates: $1.6 billion (up 36.9%)
Among these import subcategories, Chinese purchases of tin ores and concentrates (up 53.7%), aluminum ores and concentrates (up 43.8%) then niobium or zirconium ores and concentrates (up 36.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2021 to 2022.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported ores and concentrates among Chinese businesses and consumers.
China’s Top Imports of Machinery Including Computers
In 2022, Chinese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machines including computers.
- Machinery for making semi-conductors: US$34.7 billion (down -15.3% from 2021)
- Computers, optical readers: $34.6 billion (down -16.5%)
- Computer parts, accessories: $22.6 billion (down -13.5%)
- Miscellaneous machinery: $12.9 billion (down -10%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $9.6 billion (down -8.8%)
- Turbo-jets: $8.3 billion (up 17.1%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $6.2 billion (down -8.7%)
- Printing machinery: $6.2 billion (down -15.8%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $5.9 billion (down -2.6%)
- Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $5.8 billion (down -9.9%)
Among these import subcategories, Chinese purchases of turbo-jets was the lone gainer propelled by a 17.1% improvement compared to 2021.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among Chinese businesses and consumers.
Searchable List of China’s Most Valuable Import Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of China’s most in-demand imported goods during 2022. Shown beside each product label is its total import value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2021.
|Rank||China's Import Product||Value (US$)||Change|
|3||Iron ores, concentrates||$128,096,630,000||-29.9%|
|7||Copper ores, concentrates||$56,328,467,000||-0.8%|
|10||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$37,097,581,000||+2.8%|
|11||Machinery for making semi-conductors||$34,721,757,000||-15.3%|
|12||Computers, optical readers||$34,554,983,000||-16.5%|
|13||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$32,536,718,000||-2.5%|
|14||Coal, solid fuels made from coal||$30,282,017,000||+11.9%|
|16||Phone system devices||$23,552,022,000||-57.6%|
|18||Computer parts, accessories||$22,629,438,000||-13.5%|
|19||Medication mixes in dosage||$22,518,852,000||-4.2%|
|21||Processed petroleum oils||$19,604,589,000||+17.4%|
|22||TV/radio/radar device parts||$18,768,772,000||+3.3%|
|23||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$18,014,517,000||-11.2%|
|26||Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)||$16,680,338,000||+12.2%|
|27||Other measuring/testing machines||$15,353,642,000||-4.3%|
|28||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$15,172,816,000||-6.4%|
|29||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$15,019,151,000||-13.7%|
|30||Copper waste, scrap||$13,659,435,000||+7.9%|
|33||Electrical converters/power units||$12,168,650,000||-11.5%|
|34||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$12,079,515,000||-4.3%|
|37||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$10,681,160,000||+3.9%|
|41||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$9,603,674,000||-8.8%|
|42||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$9,565,762,000||+37.2%|
|43||Vermiculite, perlite, other minerals||$9,208,115,000||+430%|
|49||Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates||$7,876,512,000||-12.5%|
|50||Asphalt/petroleum bitumen mixes||$7,676,844,000||+3.2%|
|53||Aluminum ores, concentrates||$7,378,802,000||+43.8%|
|54||Chemical industry products/residuals||$7,269,685,000||-13.2%|
|57||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$7,001,782,000||-19%|
|58||Nickel matte, oxide sinters||$6,941,206,000||+225.6%|
|60||Precious metal ores, concentrates||$6,597,207,000||+14.8%|
|63||Petroleum oil residues||$6,487,729,000||+71.2%|
|64||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$6,482,302,000||-3.2%|
|66||Air or vacuum pumps||$6,211,742,000||-8.7%|
|68||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$6,102,293,000||-4.8%|
|70||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$5,922,958,000||-2.6%|
|71||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$5,848,325,000||-9.9%|
|73||Manganese ores, concentrates||$5,752,588,000||+17.3%|
|74||Other diagnostic/lab reagents||$5,597,160,000||+144.1%|
|76||Cases, handbags, wallets||$5,470,125,000||-14%|
|77||Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)||$5,232,547,000||+27.5%|
|78||Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations||$5,224,524,000||+0.4%|
|79||Unrecorded sound media||$5,176,760,000||+1.5%|
|80||Liquid pumps and elevators||$5,144,172,000||-12.2%|
|81||Whole fish (frozen)||$5,102,365,000||+45.4%|
|84||Zinc ores, concentrates||$4,771,861,000||+20.7%|
|86||Other food preparations||$4,710,419,000||+15.1%|
|87||Precious/semi-precious stones (unstrung)||$4,584,966,000||+203%|
|88||Nickel ores, concentrates||$4,536,097,000||+2.6%|
|89||Ball, roller bearings||$4,491,926,000||-16.3%|
|90||Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers||$4,478,308,000||-1.9%|
|91||Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream||$4,477,286,000||-4%|
|92||Electric motors, generators||$4,359,505,000||-7.5%|
|95||Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches||$4,317,387,000||-10.8%|
|97||Lenses, prisms, mirrors||$4,233,127,000||+5.3%|
|98||Miscellaneous plastic items||$4,228,365,000||-5.1%|
These 100 imported goods were worth a subtotal of US$2.216 trillion or 81.6% by value for all products imported into mainland China during 2022.
See also China’s Top 10 Exports, China’s Top Trading Partners, Top Chinese Trade Balances and China’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 29, 2023
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 29, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 29, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 29, 2023