China's Market in Numbers: China's 'friend circle'

Doing business internationally requires friends and partners. China's circle has been growing steadily and now the hope is that the China International Import Expo (CIIE) can help attract more countries to China's large market.

China's 'friend circle'

One of China's priorities is to build "a community with a shared future for mankind," and expanding its circle of friends is part of that.

Chinese outbound direct investment topped 143 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.

More than 27,000 Chinese investors established 43,000 enterprises in 188 countries and regions. That's more than 80 percent of the countries and regions around the world.

Now let's look at foreign trade.

China's top trading partners are the European Union, the United States and ASEAN – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Together, they made up over 41 percent of China's foreign trade in 2018.

In the first three quarters of this year, the trade volume between China and the EU – its number-one partner – topped 505 billion U.S. dollars.

VCG Photo

VCG Photo

ASEAN meanwhile jumped into second place with 444 billion U.S. dollars, overtaking the U.S. with 389 billion U.S. dollars.

"China's 'friend circle' is gradually expanding," said Dong Yan, director of the International Trade Research Office, the Institute of World Economics and Politics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "Previously, our trade was concentrated in markets such as Europe, the United States and Japan. Now, we have countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, the BRICS countries, and others. The trade ties between China and these countries are growing stably."

"It reflects that China's concept of open and inclusive development has been recognized by more and more countries. It also shows that the stable and developed Chinese market is becoming increasingly attractive," she added.

Expanding 'friend circle'

China's trade with the rest of the world has been growing.

In 2018, China's imports and exports with the EU went up 7.9 percent. With the United States and Japan, its trade volume increased by 5.7 and 5.4 percent respectively.

Its trade with emerging economies along the "Belt and Road" grew by 13.3 percent, faster than its average growth with other partners. These countries make up over a quarter of China's total foreign trade.

VCG Photo

VCG Photo

Friends recap

So to recap, China's top trading partners are the EU, the United States, ASEAN, and Japan. A new engine of Chinese foreign trade are the Belt and Road countries. Also, a rising partner with fast-growing trade ties is the Philippines.

"In our global village, every villager enjoys the services provided by others and contributes efforts to the village. The CIIE is facilitating the development of China's economy while producing a lot of 'spillover effects'," said Bai Ming, a professor from the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce. 

"The expo will enable more and more foreign countries and people to benefit from China's economic development. Our acts of helping each other and the economic globalization will bring benefits to every country in the world."

Although trade frictions will continue to emerge from time to time, China says it is committed to working towards a stable world economy.

Looking ahead, China wants to further open up to the world, and it will be looking to build more partnerships to do so.