Hannah Levinger, Deutsche Bank economist, says that it is not the first time that China has held this position — in fact China received more EU exports than Switzerland in three of the past five years.
China has yet again set new records in 2014. It became the largest economy by purchasing power parity and the number one recipient of FDI inflows — thanks mostly to slowing foreign investment to the US.
Notably, EU-China trade rebounded while the value of total EU imports and exports with the rest of the world declined. EU exports to China amounted to a seasonally and working day adjusted value of €165bn in 2014, up 11.2% from the previous year, while imports reached €302bn, an increase of 7.8% from 2013 — China is the EU's biggest source of imports by far.
This contrasts with a decline of total extra-EU exports and imports by -1.8% yoy and by -0.4% yoy respectively. Levinger says that the surge in trade between the two partners seems to be defying the reality that China’s real GDP growth slowed below 7.5% yoy in 2014.
By product group, growth of EU exports to China picked up significantly for machinery and transport equipment and chemicals whereas exports of food, drinks and tobacco slowed. With regards to imports, manufactured goods imported from China to the EU also grew at a stronger pace in 2014.
The European Commission says that bilateral trade in services, however, only amounts to 1/10 of total trade in goods, and the EU's exports of services only amount to 20% of EU's exports of goods. As a result, the EU records a significant trade deficit with China. This is in part a reflection of global and Asian value chains, but in part also due to remaining market access barriers in China.
Destatis, the German federal statistics office, reports that about 68% of exports of goods "made in Germany" were shipped to European countries in 2014. 58% of all goods were delivered to the member states of the European Union. The second important sales market for German goods in 2014 was Asia with a share of about 17%, followed by America, with a share of 12%. Africa and Australia / Oceania only accounted for small percentages of German exports (2% and 0.8%, respectively).
The majority of German imports also came from Europe (71%), followed by Asia (19%) and America (8%). Goods from Africa and Australia / Oceania played just a subordinate role in imports too (2% and 0.3%, respectively).
In 2014 the top country of destination for German exports was France followed by the United States and the United Kingdom. Germany exported goods worth €102.1bn to France (9.0% of total German exports), €96.1bn to the United States (8.5%), €84.1bn to the United Kingdom (7.4%) and China at €74.5bn (6.7%).
Most of the goods imported to Germany originated from the Netherlands. The countries ranking second and third were China and France. Germany imported goods worth €88.1bn from the Netherlands (9.6% of total German imports), €79.3bn from China (8.7%) and €67.6bn from France (7.4%) .
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