The world’s largest exporter by value, China exported US$2.591 trillion worth of goods around the globe in 2020. That dollar amount reflects a 22.3% gain since 2016 and a 3.7% increase from 2019 to 2020.
That dollar amount also represents 13.8% of overall global exports (based on the total $19.709 trillion for 2019).
Applying a continental lens, almost half (47.6%) of China exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 20.8% were sold to North American importers. China shipped another 20.7% worth of goods to Europe.
Smaller percentages went to Africa (4.4%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (4.1%) and Oceania led by Australia (2.5%).
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 2020. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Chinese exports.
- United States: US$452.6 billion (17.5% of China’s total exports)
- Hong Kong: $272.7 billion (10.5%)
- Japan: $142.6 billion (5.5%)
- Vietnam: $113.8 billion (4.4%)
- South Korea: $112.5 billion (4.3%)
- Germany: $86.8 billion (3.4%)
- Netherlands: $79 billion (3%)
- United Kingdom: $72.6 billion (2.8%)
- India: $66.7 billion (2.6%)
- Taiwan: $60.1 billion (2.3%)
- Singapore: $57.5 billion (2.2%)
- Malaysia: $56.4 billion (2.2%)
- Australia: $53.5 billion (2.1%)
- Russia: $50.6 billion (2%)
- Thailand: $50.5 billion (2%)
Two-thirds (66.7%) of Chinese exports in 2020 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
The United Kingdom increased its import purchases from China at the fastest rate, up 16.6% from 2019 to 2020. In second place were importers in Vietnam thanks to a 16.1% increase trailed by Australia (up 11.2%), Thailand (up 10.8%) then Taiwan (up 9.2%).
There were 3 decliners year over year namely India (down -10.9%), Hong Kong (down -2.5%) and Japan (down -0.4%).
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.
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$140.5 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2020)
- China: -$129.5 billion
- China: -$125.3 billion
- Australia: -$61.4 billion
- South Korea: -$60.3 billion
- Brazil: -$49.1 billion
- Japan: -$32.2 billion
- Germany: -$18.4 billion
- Malaysia: -$18.3 billion
- Chile: -$13.4 billion
Among mainland China’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Chinese deficits with Taiwan (up 19.4%), Chile (up 15.6%) and Japan (up 13.9%) grew at the fastest speed from 2019 to 2020.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate China’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent meaningful opportunities for China to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Overall, mainland China posted a $535 billion trade surplus in 2020 up by 24.5% from $429.6 billion in black ink during 2019.
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$316.6 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2020)
- Hong Kong: $265.7 billion
- Netherlands: $66.2 billion
- United Kingdom: $52.8 billion
- India: $45.9 billion
- Vietnam: $35.3 billion
- Mexico: $28.9 billion
- Singapore: $26 billion
- Philippines: $22.5 billion
- Poland: $22.4 billion
Among China’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Chinese surpluses with the United Kingdom (up 37.4%), Singapore (up 31.7%) and Poland (up 12.3%) grew at the fastest speed from 2019 to 2020.
These positive cashflow flows clearly indicate China’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent meaningful opportunities for China to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
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. (complete range of plastic gear products)
- AA Technology Co., Ltd (progressive electronic elements)
- 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 complete Industrial Co., Ltd. (food processing equipment)
- Tai Erh Enterprise Co., Ltd. (polyester fiber)
- 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 2019.
|Rank||Importer||Exports from China (US$)||2019-20|
|23.||United Arab Emirates||$32,307,071,000||-3.4%|
|88.||Dem. Rep. Congo||$2,013,119,000||-3.1%|
Mainland China’s 100 major trade partners explain $2.551 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 April 15, 2021
China Trade Directory, Database with China and Taiwan Manufacturers. Accessed on April 15, 2021
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 15, 2021
G.T. Internet Information Co., Ltd., Taiwan & China Products Online. Accessed on April 15, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing strength Parity). Accessed on April 15, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 15, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 15, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of China. Accessed on April 15, 2021
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