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What does China export?

Updated on 10 Jan 2024
3 min read
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Made in China. Much have been made about this phrase, whose origins simply indicated the production origins of a certain good. Today, it no longer just relates to international trade. As a label, Made in China could sometimes subtly indicate the quality of goods or low costs of labor. In popular culture, it’s even been made into a song.

For many countries, this label is a legal requirement for all products imported into and sold within their territory be it via ocean freight or air freight. Given China’s position as the world’s largest exporter, it’s no surprise that many goods you come across in your entire lifetime carry this label.

Chinese exports totalled $2.06 trillion in 2016, a dip of 13% from 2015’s $2.37 trillion. This was the lowest level since 2011, largely thanks to a persistently weak global demand. But even then, it was still 45.8% more than the world’s second-largest exporter, the United States, whose exported $1.42 trillion.

What does China export?

Machines such as computers, broadcasting equipment and telephones make up the bulk of Chinese exports - over 40% of its total exports. This is followed by textiles, metals, and chemical products.

Here’s a list of China’s top exported products:

1. Machines (43%)

  • Computers (6.6%)
  • Broadcasting equipment (5.6%)
  • Telephones (4.1%)

2. Textiles (12%)

  • Women’s sweaters, suits, etc

3. Metals (7.3%)

  • Steel bars, iron structures, etc

4. Chemical products (4.6%)

  • Pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, etc

5. Transportation (4.5%)

  • Vehicle parts, passengers and cargo ships, motorcycles, etc

6. Plastics and rubbers (3.9%)

  • Rubber tires, plastic housewares, etc

Overall, China’s top 10 exports make up more than two-thirds of the overall value of its global shipments. Total Chinese exports make up 7.46% of the total world exports - an indication of the export dominance of the Asian giants.

Where does China export to?

Around one in five Chinese exports end up in the United States. China’s top five export partners are:

  1. United States (19%)
  2. Hong Kong (14%)
  3. Japan (6.3%)
  4. South Korea (4.6%)
  5. Germany (3.2%)

Nearly half (49%) of all Chinese exports stay within the continent. Its top destination in Asia is Hong Kong (14%), followed by Japan (6.3%) and South Korea (4.6%).

Improving export sales

Of all the products China exported in 2016, plastics represented the fastest-growing exported product with a 153.4% increase from 2009. This is followed by furniture (129.9%) and Made-in-China vehicles (116.3%).

For a visual look at China’s exports, here’s an infographic illustrating China’s top exported products and destinations.


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