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Trade Profile

In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards

 

Foreign Trade in Figures

Trade represents more than 40% of the Chinese GDP (2015). Thanks to its enormous trade surplus over the past few years, China has become the world's largest exporter and ranks second among the world’s largest importers.

After having declined in 2011 due to the Eurozone crisis, the Chinese trade surplus has been increasing again steadily as a result of slow growth of imports and the sluggish real estate market. In 2015, China's trade surplus reached USD 595 billion - due largely to a fall in imports (-14.1% compared to 2014), which declined more quickly than exports (-2.8%). In 2016, the trade surplus declined by over 9% compared to 2015, with exports falling by 2% while imports rose by 0.6%.

China's main trade partners are the countries of Southeast Asia, the United States and the European Union.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20112012201320142015
Imports of Goods (million USD) 1,743,4841,818,4051,949,9901,959,2331,681,951
Exports of Goods (million USD) 1,898,3812,048,7142,209,0052,342,2932,274,949
Imports of Services (million USD) 246,779280,260329,419450,805466,330
Exports of Services (million USD) 200,294200,586205,778279,423285,476
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 24.122.722.121.618.5
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 26.525.424.524.122.0
Trade Balance (million USD) 228,701311,570358,981435,042566,998
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 50.648.146.645.740.5

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) - 2016; World Bank - 2016

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2015
United States 18.0%
Hong Kong 14.6%
Japan 6.0%
South Korea 4.4%
Germany 3.0%
Vietnam 2.9%
United Kingdom 2.6%
Netherlands 2.6%
India 2.6%
Singapore 2.3%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2015
South Korea 10.4%
United States 9.0%
Japan 8.5%
Germany 5.2%
Australia 4.4%
Malaysia 3.2%
Brazil 2.6%
Switzerland 2.5%
Thailand 2.2%

Source: Comtrade, 2015

 

Main Products

2,281.9 bn USD of products exported in 2015
Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 6.7%
Transmission apparatus for radio-telephony, radio-telegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras; still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras 6.0%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 3.9%
Electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies 3.1%
Lamps and lighting fittings, incl. searchlights and spotlights, and parts thereof, n.e.s; illuminated signs, illuminated name-plates and the like having a permanently fixed light source, and parts thereof, n.e.s. 1.6%
Liquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other heading; lasers (excl. laser diodes); other optical appliances and instruments not elsewhere specified in chapter 90 1.5%
Diodes, transistors and similar semiconductor devices; photosensitive semiconductor devices, incl. photovoltaic cells whether or not assembled in modules or made-up into panels (excl. photovotaic generators); light emitting diodes; mounted piezo-electric crystals; parts thereof 1.5%
Furniture and parts thereof, n.e.s. (excl. seats and medical, surgical, dental or veterinary furniture) 1.3%
Parts and accessories (other than covers, carrying cases and the like) suitable for use solely or principally with machines of heading 8469 to 8472, n.e.s. 1.3%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 1.2%
1,681.7 bn USD of products imported in 2015
Electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies 13.8%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 8.0%
Iron ores and concentrates, incl. roasted iron pyrites 3.4%
Liquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other heading; lasers (excl. laser diodes); other optical appliances and instruments not elsewhere specified in chapter 90 2.8%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 2.7%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 2.6%
Soya beans, whether or not broken 2.1%
Diodes, transistors and similar semiconductor devices; photosensitive semiconductor devices, incl. photovoltaic cells whether or not assembled in modules or made-up into panels (excl. photovotaic generators); light emitting diodes; mounted piezo-electric crystals; parts thereof 1.8%
Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 1.7%
Powered aircraft e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes; spacecraft, incl. satellites, and suborbital and spacecraft launch vehicles 1.5%

Source: Comtrade, 2015

 
 
 

Main Services

631.8 bn USD of services exported in 2014
Other business services
32.72%
Travel
27.03%
Transportation
18.16%
Computer and information services
9.58%
Construction services
7.29%
Insurance services
2.17%
Financial services
2.15%
Government services
0.50%
Royalties and license fees
0.32%
Cultural and recreational services
0.08%
819.0 bn USD of services imported in 2014
Transportation
35.22%
Travel
20.13%
Other business services
19.55%
Royalties and license fees
8.28%
Insurance services
8.22%
Computer and information services
3.94%
Financial services
1.81%
Construction services
1.78%
Government services
0.74%
Cultural and recreational services
0.32%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Last Available Data

 

Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
Chinese Yuan (Renminbi) (CNY)
Exchange Rate Regime
Managed floating exchange rate regime, allowing Central Bank interventions.
Level of Currency Instability
Significant risks of instability. Volatility may increase with China’s economic slowdown, a change in U.S. monetary policy or international pressures on the Government for a revaluation of the currency.
 
 
Monetary Indicators 20112012201320142015
Chinese Yuan (Renminbi) (CNY) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 6.466.316.206.146.23

Source: World Bank - 2016.

 
 

Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Main International Economic Cooperation
China is a member of the following organisations/agreements: Asia-Pacific economic cooperation Organisation (APEC), Bilateral Treaties and Accords, AFTA and ASEAN - China Free Trade Area.
For more information, consult the list of Free Trade Agreements signed by China
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets
Yes

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Look Up the Other Member Countries And Read the Web Pages of the World Customs Organization Devoted to the ATA Carnet.
Party of the TIR Convention
No

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
The UNCTAD Website Allows You to Read the TIR Convention, See the List of Member Countries And to Find Further Information.
Accompanying Documents For Imports
Goods dispatched in China must be accompanied by the following documents:
- Certificates of origin
- The unique data folder (DAU)
- Commercial invoice (in 3 copies and in English.
)
- Sale contract in three copies
- A certificate of plant health (for food and agricultural products
)
- A health certificate (for meat
)
- A certificate indicating fit for human consumption
- A certificate of fumigation (for the wooden pallets).
- Certificate of Community origin (for imports coming from the EU.)
- Certificate of free sale for cosmetics.
- Transport documents and packing lists.
- Translation of the components/ingredients in Chinese.
Free Zones
The Waigaoqiao zone: the Jingqiao zone, the Lujiazui zone and the Zhangjiang zone.
The Zones are known as ZES: Shenzen, Zhuhai, Shantou , Xiamen, Qinghuandao
For Further Information
Customs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Commerce
Non Tariff Barriers
Only companies or institutions authorised by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation (MOFTEC) can run foreign trade operations. Two methods are possible: Foreign Trade Companies or producing companies entitled to trade with foreigners (import for their personal use provided they have stable export balances). While only 14 companies were authorised to engage in foreign trade operations in China in 1979, there are nearly 9,000 companies authorised today.

More than half of value imports to China are subject to import licenses. Initial authorisation is issued by various organisations (according to the product), but the final delivery is subject to acceptance by the MOFTEC. To obtain these authorisations, the importer must have exact foreign exchange reserves and justify the necessity to import. Delivery of licenses often depends on the sphere of activity, which may be encouraged, allowed, restricted or simply prohibited, according to the investments regulation promulgated by China. In any case, it is imperative to have solid relations within the Chinese Administration for obtaining these licenses.

Many goods imported into China are subject to inspection. In order to ensure conformity with Chinese customs standards, certain products- textiles, in particular- are subject to inspection prior to arrival in China. Other products can undergo inspection at the port of entry.

Sectors or Products For Which Commercial Disagreements Have Been Registered With the WTO
Paper, products containing metals (steel, iron, tin, etc), integrated circuits, automobile parts, intellectual property, etc.
Assessment of Commercial Policy
Pages of WTO dedicated to China
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the United States
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the EU
Sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, inventoried by the EU

Learn more about How to Export to China on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

 

Standards

National Standards Organisations
Standardisation Administration of China (SAC)
Chinese Association for Standardisation
Integration in the International Standards Network
Member of:
- The International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) and of the International Electronic Commission (IEC)
- The APEC/SCSC, Sub-committee of Standards and Conformity of the Organisation of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
- The ASEM/TFAP/SCA, Plan and Standards of action for facilitation of commercial exchanges and evaluation of conformity of the Asia-Europe Dialogue (ASEM)
- The Congress of Standards for the Pacific Zone (PASC)
Obligation to Use Standards
Standards in China fall into at least one of four broad categories: national standards, industry standards, local or regional standards, and enterprise standards for individual companies. National standards can be either mandatory (technical regulations, protection of public health, private property and safety) or voluntary, and take precedence over all other types of standards. Laws and regulations can reference voluntary standards, thereby making the voluntary standard, in effect, mandatory. For certain products, China requires that a safety and quality certification mark (CCC) be obtained. Numerous government agencies in China mandate industry-specific standards or testing requirements for products under their jurisdiction in addition to the GB standards and the CCC mark.
Classification of Standards
GB

List of Chinese Codes and Standards.

Assessment of the System of Standardization
Respect of standards is important for the Chinese.
Online Consultation of Standards
Publications relating to the Chinese standards of the SAC.
Certification Organisations
CCC Chinese Obligatory Certification
Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) Administration of Certification and Accreditation of China
Certification Organisations
AQSIQ
Associations of Standards Users
Chinese Association for Standardization (CAS)

 

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Last Updates: June 2017