Chinese foreign trade soars in 2021 amid global recovery

Beijing, Jan 14 (EFE).- China’s trade with the rest of the world increased by 21.4% in 2021, confirming the solid export momentum of the «world factory», which at the same time faces the challenge of combining its harsh anti-covid measures with the recovery of consumption.

According to data released today by the General Administration of Customs, Chinese foreign trade reached a record 39.1 trillion yuan (6.14 trillion dollars or 5.36 trillion euros) in 2021.

Likewise, official statistics denominated in yuan show that Chinese exports grew by 21.2% year-on-year during the past year, to 21.73 billion yuan (3.41 billion dollars, 2.98 billion euros), thanks to greater demand from abroad given the global economic recovery, which is proving volatile and uneven, according to some experts.

On the other hand, Chinese imports increased by 21.5% year-on-year in 2021, to 17.37 billion yuan (2.73 million dollars or 2.38 billion euros.

Thus, China’s trade surplus was 4.36 trillion yuan (685.47 billion dollars, 597.582 million euros) in 2021, which is 16.22% more than the 2020 data.

In the month of December, Chinese international trade expanded by 16.7% year-on-year, and totaled 3.7 trillion yuan (581,770 million dollars or 506,963 million euros).

During that same month, exports rose by 17.3% and imports, by 16%.


In the breakdown by region, trade with the European Union (EU) increased by 19.1% year-on-year in 2021 compared to the 5.3% year-on-year increase registered in 2020, while those with the United States increased by 20, 2% in 2021. In 2020, the increase had been 8.8% year-on-year compared to the previous year.

For its part, with China’s main trading partner, the Association of National Associations of Southeast Asia (Asean), they grew by 19.7%.

Exchanges with Latin America increased by 31.6% in 2021, according to statistics.

In 2021 China increased by 77.1% the export of rare earths, essential to manufacture electronic devices, such as mobile phones and computers.

The Asian country also exported more automobiles (104.6%), steel (67.9%), aluminum (38.7%), fertilizers (61.4%), electronic products (20.4%), toys (28 .6%), products derived from plastic (20.5%) or clothing (15.6%).

Regarding imports, the increases in food (39.1%), natural gas (56.3%), oil (34.4%), coal (64.1%), semiconductors (18.2% ), integrated circuits (15.4%) and other high-tech products (14.7%).


According to Customs spokesman Li Kuiwen, the 2021 data shows that China has been «at the forefront of global economic development and pandemic response.»

«It is demonstrated by this rapid growth in foreign trade, which saw record volume and steady progress in quality,» Li said.

According to analyst Tommy Wu, from the firm Oxford Economics, the increase in exports was «exceptionally strong» in 2021, but will slow down in 2022.

«The increase was relatively modest during the second half compared to the first. New orders are weak, foreign demand is also weakening from last year. Hopefully 2022 will not be as strong,» he said.

The economist highlights that the omicron variant of the coronavirus poses a great challenge for the Asian country, taking into account the harsh measures it applies against covid.

«We do not expect major interruptions in manufacturing production or in exports as a whole. What is of concern is the weakness in consumption, something that could affect imports, which would remain moderate in the first half of this year,» adds Wu. .

All in all, the data confirms the good Chinese exporting moment despite the fact that consumption has not yet emerged in the Asian country, to which must be added the latest regulations in fields such as technology and education or the real estate crisis.

China will release the 2021 gross domestic product (GDP) data next Monday. According to the World Bank (WB), the Chinese economy will grow 8% in 2021 and 5.1% in 2022.

In its latest report, the World Bank recommended that China direct the growth of external demand to domestic demand, from traditional investment -such as in infrastructure- to consumption, from the State to the private sector and from an economy based on coal consumption to a low in polluting emissions.

(c) EFE Agency