More reports on: Trade

China pips US to become world's top trader

03 March 2014

China has overtaken the United States as the world's largest trader with total trades worth $4.16 trillion in 2013, against US trade volumes of $3.91 trillion.

China's merchandise trade, including exports worth $2.21 trillion and imports worth $1.95 trillion, totalled $4.16 trillion in 2013, according to initial data compiled by the World Trade Organisation.

Against this, the combined exports and imports of the US stood at $3.91 trillion in 2013, China's ministry of commerce said quoting data from the US Commerce Department.

China's foreign trade volume was just $20.6 billion in 1978 but has grown by an annual average of 16.4 per cent to reach $3.87 trillion in 2012, almost reaching US trade figure of $3.88 trillion for the year.

China has diversified its trading partners over the years, actively pushing its trades with member countries of the  ASEAN and African and Middle East and other emerging markets even as trade with traditional partners such as the US and Europe slowed.

The structure of China's import and export markets has expanded to include more and more electronics and labour-intensive goods while imports constituted mostly raw materials and some consumer goods.

China is currently India's largest trading partner with bilateral trade worth $49.5 billion (with 8.7 per cent share in India's total trade), while the US comes second with total trade of $46 billion.

Bilateral trade between China and African countries is expected to surpass $200 billion in 2014.

Iran and China are planning to increase their annual trade to $200 billion, according to the director of the Trade Promotion Organisation of Iran.

China is now the largest trade partner of more than 120 countries and regions. It is also the world's second-largest importer.

Commerce ministry spokesman Yao Jian said China's achievement marks the country's new milestone in the path of developing foreign trade and is also a fruit of its pursuit of reforms and opening-up as well as engagement in globalisation.

However, he said, value addition in China's exports was relatively low. China is also handicapped by a general lack of own brands and sales networks, quality shortcomings and capacity to improve capabilities of using resources in both domestic and international markets.


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