China Becomes World’s Top Trader
At the end of last year, China confirmed their position as the world’s top goods trader for the first time ever, overtaking the US who has held the title for decades.
Beijing released figures on 10 January showing that China’s goods trade has risen to approximately 25 trillion yuan, about £2.5 trillion, a record high amount. The General Administration of Customs (GAC) announced that exports rose by almost 8% and imports increased by 7.3%. Altogether, the trade surplus, which is how much the cost of exports exceeds the costs of a country’s imports, was around £157 billion, which is a 12.8% rise from 2012.
In 2009, China became the world’s biggest goods exported, but the latest figures indicate that the rise in imports is what has helped boost China into top position. And although there was speculation last year that some of China’s export statements had been doctored, to boost the export numbers, measures are being placed to counter this possible issue. Some experts have even suggested that even if the export information is incorrect that China would still be holding the top spot.
“This is a milestone for the development of our national trading services,” said Chinese Customs Official Mr Zheng Yuesheng at a press conference. When speaking about the improvements in international demand for China’s goods and factors in the domestic economy, Mr Zheng said he thought trade growth was even more likely in 2014 than in 2013, suggesting that early indications of slow growth in the economy does not necessarily mean that the country’s finances cannot thrive later in the year.
The US is not due to releases its figures for 2013 until February, but at the 11 month mark there isn’t much that could change the positioning of the world’s two top-trading countries. It is thought that for the US not to slide down into second position, it would have had to have doubled its average monthly performance at the end of last year.
According to GAC, the European Union and United States are the biggest traders with China, accounting for over a quarter of China’s trade as a whole, both imports and exports. Trading with countries within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was also up by almost 11% compared with the year before.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who took office early last year, had previously said that he wanted to create an economy that revolved around domestic demand and internal trading. With the latest figures and the launch of the free-trade zone in Shanghai in September last year as reported by the Daily Diamond, it seems that President Xi’s plans are really coming together.
Early last year there were worries that China’s economy was not expanding quickly enough to accommodate the economic changes that President Xi envisioned, but it was hoped that the free-trade zone would help give the economy a little boost to lead China back onto a sustainable growth path, and that is exactly what has happened.