USA replaced at the top: China for the first time largest EU trading partner


USA replaced at the top
China largest EU trading partner for the first time

China can take advantage of the pandemic and the tariff dispute between the EU and Washington: The country is becoming the EU’s most important trading partner for the first time, overtaking the USA. Above all, the value of Chinese imports into the Union is increasing. Overall, the corona crisis is still depressing the EU trade balance.

Last year, China overtook the US as the EU’s most important trading partner for the first time. As the EU statistics agency Eurostat announced, the volume of trade with the People’s Republic was 586 billion euros in 2020. With the USA it was 555 billion euros. Despite the corona crisis, trade with China increased again last year. According to Eurostat, EU exports rose by 2.2 percent to 202.5 billion euros. Imports from the People’s Republic increased by 5.6 percent to 383.5 billion euros.

China’s economy had recovered from the corona crisis much faster than that of the United States thanks to success in containing the spread of the virus. In addition, the former US President Donald Trump had not only imposed punitive tariffs on China, but also on certain imports from the EU. The EU then imposed billions in counter-tariffs. Last year, in light of these developments, EU exports to the United States fell by 8.2 percent to 353 billion euros. At the same time, imports from the USA fell by 13.2 percent to 202 billion euros.

The EU’s trade surplus with the USA remained practically unchanged compared to the previous year at just under 151 billion euros. Overall, the corona crisis left deep marks on the EU trade balance. In total, the 27 EU countries exported goods worth 1.93 trillion euros abroad last year. This was a decrease of 9.4 percent compared to 2019. Imports fell by 11.6 percent to 1.71 trillion euros.

After Brexit, trade with the former EU member Great Britain also fell significantly. Imports and exports fell by a good 13 percent each, although the United Kingdom was still part of the EU internal market and the customs union until the end of 2020. With almost 445 billion euros, Great Britain was the third largest EU trading partner after China and the USA in 2020 – ahead of Switzerland, Russia and Turkey.

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