China-U.S. trade relations - Statistics & Facts

In 2017, China’s trade surplus stood at 421.44 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 2017, outperformed Germany by approximately 140 billion U.S. dollars. The United States, with imports exceeding exports by approximately 863 billion U.S. dollars that year, ranked first among leading import countries worldwide.

With exports amounting to 3.16 trillion yuan during 2018, the United States was China’s top export market. The European Union came in second with 2.7 trillion yuan worth of exports from China. In 2017, China’s major exports were machinery and transport equipment amounting to around 1.1 trillion yuan, 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. Texas, California, and Washington were the three leading U.S. export states to China with 16.3, 15.8 and 12.1 billion U.S. dollars worth of commodities exported respectively in 2018. In terms of merchandise category, the U.S. had exported in total over 18 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 2018, the total value of U.S. trade in goods with China amounted to almost 660 billion U.S. dollars, composed of a 120.3 billion U.S. dollar export value and a 539.5 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.

Another two rounds of the U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods followed in 2018, resulting in China’s retaliation, trade talks, and temporary truce agreed to on December 2nd. Many more trade negotiations were arranged in both Beijing and Washington in the beginning of 2019 resulting, however, in another tariff increase in May.

As of June 2019, the U.S. has applied tariffs to a total of 250 billion U.S. dollars of Chinese imports, whereas China has levied tariffs on 110 billion U.S. dollars worth of American products. The clash of the different economic models of the two countries, increasing geopolitical rivalry, and mistrust will likely keep the Sino-U.S. trading relations unstable for the years to come.

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Sino-U.S. trading relationship

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