That dollar amount reflects a 33.2% gain since 2017 and a 16.8% acceleration from 2020 to 2021.
The value of China’s total exports represents 14.1% of overall global exports (based on the world’s total $21.513 trillion for 2021).
Applying a continental lens, approaching half (46.9%) of mainland China’s exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 20.79% were sold to North American importers. China shipped a comparable 20.75% worth of goods to Europe.
Smaller percentages went to Latin America (4.8%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Africa (4.4%) then Oceania (2.4%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
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 2021. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Chinese exports.
- United States: US$521 billion (17.2% of China’s total exports)
- Hong Kong: $313.1 billion (10.3%)
- Japan: $151.3 billion (5%)
- South Korea: $135.1 billion (4.5%)
- Vietnam: $125.8 billion (4.2%)
- Germany: $103 billion (3.4%)
- Netherlands: $91.6 billion (3%)
- India: $87.9 billion (2.9%)
- United Kingdom: $78.8 billion (2.6%)
- Taiwan: $70.8 billion (2.3%)
- Malaysia: $69.1 billion (2.3%)
- Thailand: $62.1 billion (2.1%)
- Mexico: $61.1 billion (2%)
- Australia: $59.6 billion (2%)
- Russia: $59.5 billion (2%)
Almost two-thirds (65.8%) of Chinese exports in 2021 was delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Mexico increased its import purchases from mainland China at the fastest rate, up 36.2% from 2020 to 2021. In second place were importers in India thanks to a 31.8% gain trailed by Thailand (up 23%), Malaysia (up 22.5%), South Korea (up 20.1%), Germany (up 18.6%), Taiwan (up 17.7%) then the Russian Federation (up 17.5%).
Year over year, the most modest increases resulted from mainland China’s exports to Japan (up 6.1%) and the United Kingdom (up 8.5%).
For a more comprehensive listing of 100 trade partners, see the section Searchable Datalist of Countries Importing China’s Exports near the bottom of this article.
Countries Causing China’s Greatest Trading 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.
- Taiwan: -US$156.4 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2021)
- Australia: -$92.6 billion
- South Korea: -$58.7 billion
- Brazil: -$55.2 billion
- Japan: -$37.1 billion
- Switzerland: -$29.6 billion
- Saudi Arabia: -$24.2 billion
- Oman: -$22.4 billion
- Malaysia: -$18.4 billion
- Angola: -$16 billion
Among China’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Chinese deficits with Switzerland (up 138.7%), Saudi Arabia (up 120.9%) and Oman (up 80%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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.
Countries Generating China’s Biggest Trading Surpluses
Overall, mainland China posted a $587.5 billion trade surplus in 2021 up by 9.8% from $535 billion in black ink during 2020.
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 at the expense of the following countries.
- United States: US$357.4 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2021)
- Hong Kong: $304.1 billion
- Netherlands: $79.2 billion
- India: $61.6 billion
- United Kingdom: $55.4 billion
- Mexico: $43.7 billion
- Vietnam: $42.8 billion
- Philippines: $29.3 billion
- Poland: $28.1 billion
- Spain: $21.4 billion
Among China’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, China’s surpluses with Mexico (up 51.3%), India (up 34.4%) and Philippines (up 30%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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.
China’s Major Exports Companies
China placed about 150 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)
Searchable Datalist of Countries Consuming China’s Exports
You can change the presentation order by clicking the triangle icon at the top of any of the columns below. The right-most shows the percentage change in value for each importing country since 2020.
|Rank||Importer||China's Exports (US$)||2020-1|
|23.||United Arab Emirates||$38,557,568,000||+19.3%|
|86.||Democr. Rep. Congo||$2,437,594,000||+21.1%|
Mainland China’s 100 major trade partners account for $2.98 trillion or 98.5% of all exported goods consumed by trade partners that import from the People’s Republic.
See also China’s Top 10 Imports, China’s Top 10 Exports, 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 May 13, 2022
China Trade Directory, Database with China and Taiwan Manufacturers. Accessed on May 13, 2022
Forbes 2017 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 13, 2022
G.T. Internet Information Co., Ltd., Taiwan & China Products Online. Accessed on May 13, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on May 13, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 13, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 13, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of China. Accessed on May 13, 2022