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Web Exclusive | May 2016

China still going strong in exports

China continues increasing its share in global exports market, despite rumours that its grip on the export markets has been slipping. Only shift is in the product mix, which is becoming increasingly sophisticated and high-tech. Last year, China recorded its first decline in export value since the financial crisis of 2009. This has triggered concerns as to whether China’s export competitiveness is eroding rapidly in light of the competition arising from the emerging number of alternative production bases.

There is a clear indication that labour-intensive production in certain sectors is relocating away from China, with South or South-east Asia being the likely beneficiary. Despite this, trade statistics show that China is continuing to expand its share of the overall world export market share, while its export product mix is becoming increasingly sophisticated and high-tech.

Expanding world export share

Recently released WTO’s global trade figures show, total export values across the world dropped by 13.2 per cent in 2015, falling to $16.5 trillion. Although China’s total exports dropped by 2.9 per cent in 2015, it had the smallest decline of all the major exporters. Aside from Vietnam, China’s exports were also declining at a slower pace than any of the alternative production bases in Asia. As a result, China’s global market share of merchandise exports continued to increase, rising from 12.3 per cent in 2014 to 13.8 per cent in 2015.

With regard to both the US and the EU, China’s share of their imports also increased during this period. As per US statistics, China’s share of US imports rose from 18.1 per cent in 2011 to 21.5 per cent in 2015. When oil imports are excluded, China’s share increased from 22.8 per cent to 23.7 per cent for the same period. In the case of the EU, statistics show China share of extra-EU imports increased from 17.1 per cent in 2011 to 20.3 per cent in 2015.

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