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China's 1.9% growth in international trade in 2020

During the pandemic, China increased its foreign trade particularly through a relaunch of exports. According to Chinese Customs data as of January 14, 2021, the total imports and exports of goods from China reached CNY 32.16 trillion which is an increase in the aggregate value of 1.9% for the year 2020.

In particular, exports increased by 3.6%, while imports fell by 1.1%. The total international trade in 2020 for China was $4.646 billion.

China General Administration of Customs confirmed that the trade balance increased its surplus to the rest of the world from $422 billion to $535 billion. China’s main trading partners are ASEAN bloc, the European Union, the United States, Japan and South Korea. Trade with the ASEAN bloc increased by 6.7%(total), with an increase of 6.7% in exports and 6.6% in imports. Trade with the EU increased by 4.9%, with exports + 6.7% and imports + 2.3%. This was coupled with a strong increase in trade with the US which recorded +8.3% in total trade, exports + 7.9% and imports + 9.8%.

In 2020, the total trade with Belt and Road Initiative member countries increased by 1% to 9.37 trillion Yuan and based on data issued by Chinese Customs. Among the Belt Road countries, Italy traded with China in 2020 for USD 55.185 billion, with exports up by + 3.8% (USD 22.248 billion) and imports down by -1.7% (USD 33.938 billion) for Italy. The main Italian exports to China are related to machinery and equipment, pharmaceutical products and clothing items.

The ratio of the total exports in 2020 when compared to 2019, Rome to Beijing recorded a trade performance above the average of the European Union. Indeed, both France and Germany suffered a contraction in their exports to China.

In 2020, Beijing remains the leader in global trade, growing by 1.9% of GDP according to estimates by the International Monetary Fund, and increasing foreign trade by the same percentage (+1.9%) while also signing the largest free trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

China is promoting the Far East as a mega Free Trade Zone, with 15 member countries party to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and concluded 2020 with an investment agreement with the European Union, accelerating China’s trajectory while the whole world slows.


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