China-US trade relations - Statistics & Facts

In 2017, China’s trade surplus stood at 412.44 billion U.S. dollars, decreasing two years in a row from almost 594 billion U.S. dollars in 2015 and 510 billion U.S. dollars in the previous year. Being an economy heavily reliant on export, China ranked first among countries with the highest trade surplus in 2016, outperformed Germany by approximately 226 billion U.S. dollars. The United States, with imports exceeding exports by approximately 797 billion U.S. dollars that year, ranked first among leading import countries worldwide.

With exports amounting to 43.5 billion U.S. dollars during 2017, the United States was China’s top export market. The European Union came in second with 377 billion U.S. dollars worth of exports from China. In 2016, China’s major exports were machinery and transport equipment accounting for nearly half of the total exports with around 984 billion U.S. dollars, followed by miscellaneous products, textile, industrial products, rubber, minerals and metallurgical products.

During the last decade, the value of U.S. exports to China had been increasing. California, Washington and Texas were the three leading U.S. export states to China with 13, 11 and ten billion U.S. dollars worth of commodities exported respectively in 2016. In terms of merchandise category, the U.S. had exported in total around 16 billion U.S. dollars of civilian aircraft, engines, equipment and parts to China, while soybeans and motor vehicles also accounted for major shares in the exports.

Despite the growing U.S. export to China, China remains the main source of the trade deficit of the United States. In 2016, 47.26 percent of the deficits of the United States in international trade was resulted from its trade with China. In 2017, the total value of U.S. trade in goods with China amounted to 636 billion U.S. dollars, composed of a 130.4 billion U.S. dollar export value and a 505.6 billion U.S. dollar import value.

On July 6th, 2018, the Trump administration officially imposed a 25 percent tariff on goods worth 34 billion U.S. dollars from China, marking the official launch of Trump’s tariff policy towards Beijing. While some Chinese experts are expressing their worries on social media about the impact this trade war could have on China’s economy, the U.S. based Brookings Institute published a report in which they claim that in the high-tech field that Trump wants to strike, the "added value" from China among these products is very low. Therefore, it is posited that Trump's blow will only hurt companies from the United States and its allies.

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