China Becomes World’s Biggest Trading Nation

Recent data from China has revealed that the country has unseated the United States as the world’s biggest trading nation in goods. China’s imports and exports reached a total of $3.87 trillion in 2012, compared with the $3.82 trillion trade in goods reported by the US commerce department. This is reportedly the first time since World War II that the United States has not been the world’s biggest trading nation.

While seen as a milestone for the development of trade in China, the figures also indicate the extent of the country’s dependence on other countries to generate jobs and income within China. In this regard, the US, with its economy being twice the size of China’s, is more self-contained. The US recorded a $195.3 billion surplus in services last year, with a goods deficit in excess of $700 billion, while China’s trade surplus for 2012, measured in goods, was $231.1 billion. The US gross domestic product (GDP) for 2011 was $15 trillion, while China’s GDP for the same period was $7.3 trillion, with China’s National Bureau of Statistics reporting in January that the country’s GDP was $8.3 trillion in 2012.

Analysts are directing attention to the fact that the China’s policy of stimulating its domestic market has resulted in a five-fold increase in import volumes over the past five years, which has played a significant role in boosting the country into the number one spot as the world’s biggest trading nation. China’s imports have increased to the extent that, by the end of the decade, it is anticipated that Germany’s exports to China may be double its exports to France – one of Germany’s top export destinations.

Other areas in which China is leading include being the world’s biggest market for new cars; being the biggest exporter (passing Germany in 2009); holding the largest foreign currency reserves; and being the biggest energy user – which, when considering the pollution problem being experienced in Beijing, Shanghai and other centers, the latter cannot be seen as a good thing.