Business

China's roaring trade is hard to beat

Phillip Inman

Official figures show that the United States no longer dominates trading in goods.

China's customs administration said the combined total for imports and exports in Chinese goods reached $3.87-trillion in 2012. (Supplied)

China has become the world's biggest trading nation in goods, ending the post-war dominance of the United States, according to official figures.

China's customs administration said the combined total for imports and exports in Chinese goods reached $3.87-trillion in 2012, edging past the $3.82-trillion trade in goods registered by the US commerce department.

The landmark total for Chinese trade indicates the extent of Beijing's dependence on the rest of the world to generate jobs and income compared with a US economy that remains twice the size and more self-contained ($15-trillion compared with the $7.3-trillion Chinese economy).

The US not only has a large internal market for goods, but also dominates the trade in services. US total trade amounted to $4.93-trillion in 2012, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, and has a surplus of $195.3-billion.

But like most Western nations, the US deficit in the trade of goods weighs heavily and is only expected to get larger. The deficit in goods was more than $700-billion compared with China's 2012 trade surplus, measured in goods, which totalled $231.1-billion.

Jim O'Neill, head of asset management at Goldman Sachs, said the huge market for Western goods would disrupt regional trading blocs as China becomes the most important commercial partner for some countries. "For so many countries around the world, China is rapidly becoming the most important bilateral trade partner," he said. "At this kind of pace, by the end of the decade many European countries will be doing more individual trade with China than with bilateral partners in Europe." — © Guardian News & Media 2013

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