China’s 2021 Imports and Exports Hit $6 Trillion for First Time

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Officials in Beijing held a press conference on Friday morning, during which Li Kuiwen, spokesperson of the General Administration of Customs (GAC), disclosed that China’s foreign trade has achieved rapid growth in the previous year.

Citing customs statistics, Li stated that the total import and export volume of China’s merchandise trade in 2021 was 39.1 trillion yuan ($6.15 trillion), a year-on-year increase of 21.4%.  Within this, exports totaled 21.73 trillion yuan, an annual increase of 21.2%, while imports reached 17.37 trillion yuan, an increase of 21.5%. Compared with 2019, China’s 2020 foreign trade volume, exports and imports had increased by 23.9%, 26.1% and 21.2%, respectively.

Li also revealed that in 2021, China’s foreign trade exhibited five key developments.

Foreign trade hits new high in 2021

In 2021, the volume of China’s imports and exports reached $6.05 trillion. Eight years after reaching $4 trillion for the first time in 2013, it has hit a new high this year, up $1.4 trillion from a year ago.

China posted steady trade growth with all of its five largest trading partners

In 2021, China’s top five trading partners were ASEAN, the European Union, the United States, Japan and South Korea, in turn. China’s imports and exports with ASEAN, the European Union and the United States gained 19.7%, 19.1% and 20.2%, respectively, while its trade with Japan and South Korea climbed 9.4% and 18.4%. Meanwhile, the country’s trade with national economies involved in its Belt and Road Initiative reported a higher-than-average increase of 23.6%.

Imports and exports of general trade accounted for more than 60%

In 2021, China’s imports and exports of general trade was 24.08 trillion yuan, an increase of 24.7%, accounting for 61.6% of the total. Specifically, exports were 13.24 trillion yuan, an increase of 24.4%, while imports reached 10.84 trillion yuan, an increase of 25%. During the same period, the combined imports and exports of processing trade hit 8.5 trillion yuan, an increase of 11.1% and accounting for 21.7% overall.

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More Chinese enterprises are participating in foreign trade

In 2021, there were 567,000 Chinese enterprises participating in import and export activities, an increase of 36,000 year-on-year. Among them, the imports and exports of private enterprises reached 19 trillion yuan, an increase of 26.7%, accounting for 48.6% overall. Meanwhile, the imports and exports of foreign-invested enterprises was 14.03 trillion yuan, an increase of 12.7%, and that of Chinese state-owned enterprises reached 5.94 trillion yuan, an increase of 27.7%.

Imports and exports of mechanical and electrical products maintained a positive growth trend

In 2021, China exported 12.83 trillion yuan in mechanical and electrical products, an increase of 20.4%, accounting for 59% of the total export volume. Among them, automatic data processing equipment and associated parts, smartphones and automobiles increased by 12.9%, 9.3% and 104.6%, respectively. Meanwhile, imports of mechanical and electrical products reached 7.37 trillion yuan, an increase of 12.2%, accounting for 42.4% of the total import volume, among which the import of integrated circuits increased by 15.4%.