China’s Trade Relationship with its Neighboring Countries: A Snapshot

Posted by  Written by Alexander Chipman Koty

A look at China’s trade relationship with its 14 neighbor countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Vietnam.

As the largest trading nation in Asia, China has significant trade relationships with several of its 14 neighboring countries.

In 2020, China’s foreign trade volume was worth US$4.65 trillion, an increase of 1.5 percent year-on-year, according to statistics from the General Administration of Customs. Exports grew by 3.6 percent for a total of US$2.59 trillion, while imports fell by 1.1 percent to just over US$2 trillion. Overall, China registered a trade surplus of US$535 billion.

With its neighbors, China’s total imports and exports are worth about US$288.4 billion. Among China’s neighbors, Vietnam (US$182.4 billion) has the largest trade volume, followed by Russia (US$105.1 billion), and India (US$84.1 billion).

Conversely, China has relatively low trade exposure with Bhutan (US$2.4 million), Afghanistan (US$533.2 million), and North Korea (US$534.4 million).

China has a trade surplus with 11 out of its 14 neighbors; Laos, Mongolia, and Russia are the only exceptions. China’s imports from these countries are dominated by natural resources, such as gas, oil, and ores. Exports from China, on the other hand, tend to consist of products like electronics, machines, and equipment.

China has free trade agreements with four of its neighbors: Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam under the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement.

The following is a snapshot of China’s trade relations with its neighboring countries in 2020. All trade data is sourced from the Observatory of Economic Complexity.

Afghanistan

Total trade: US$533.2 million

  • Trade balance: +US$424.8 million

Applicable FTAs: N/A

Double taxation agreement: No

Exports: US$479 million

  • Top exports: Electrical machinery, equipment, and parts, etc. (17.4%); rubber and articles thereof (13.2%); man-made filaments (8.1%)

Imports: US$54.2 million

  • Top imports: Fruit and nuts, etc. (94.8%); cotton (2.32%); wool, fine or coarse animal hair, etc. (1.12%)

Bhutan

Total trade: US$2.4 million

  • Trade balance: +US$2.3 million

Applicable FTAs: N/A

Double taxation agreement: No

Exports: US$2.4 million

  • Top exports: Electrical machinery, equipment, and parts, etc. (30.1%); textiles, made up articles, etc. (21.2%); nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances (8.5%)

Imports: US$4,200

  • Top imports: Toys, games, and sports requisites (43.6%); commodities not specified according to kind (35.5%); printed books, newspapers, picture, and other printing industry products (17.9%)

India

Total trade: US$84.1 billion

  • Trade balance: +US$43.5 billion
  • Applicable FTAs: N/A

    Double taxation agreement: Yes

    Exports: US$63.8 billion

  • Top exports: Electrical machinery, equipment, and parts, etc. (29%); nuclear reactors, boilers, machine, and mechanical appliances (19.6%); organic chemicals (12.65%)
  • Imports: US$20.3 billion

  • Top imports: Ores, slag, and ash (20.1%); iron and steel (12.2%); organic chemicals (11.6%)

Kazakhstan

Total trade: US$19.7 billion

  • Trade balance: +US$1.3 billion

Applicable FTAs: N/A

Double taxation agreement: Yes

Exports: US$10.5 billion

  • Top exports: Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances (14.8%); electrical machinery, equipment, and parts, etc. (12.5%); apparel and clothing accessories (12.4%)

Imports: US$9.2 billion

  • Top imports: Mineral fuels, mineral oils, etc. (26.3%); ores, slag, and ash (20.7%); copper and articles thereof (19%)

Kyrgyzstan

Total trade: US$2.78 billion

  • Trade balance: +US$2.72 billion

Applicable FTAs: N/A

Double taxation agreement: Yes

Exports: US$2.75 billion

  • Top exports: Apparel and clothing accessories (27.5%); apparel and clothing accessories (12.8%); footwear, gaiters, and the like (8.1%)

Imports: US$33.2 million

  • Top imports: Ores, slag, and ash (75.7%); raw hides and skins (11.7%); fruit and nuts (2.8%)

Laos

Total trade: US$3.5 billion

  • Trade balance: -US$610 million

Applicable FTAs: China-ASEAN Free Trade AgreementRegional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Double taxation agreement: Yes

Exports: US$1.43 billion

  • Top exports: Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances (18.5%); electrical machinery, equipment, and parts, etc. (18.1%); iron or steel articles (14.6%)

Imports: US$2.04 billion

  • Top imports: Ores, slag, and ash (22.1%); pulp of wood or other fibrous cellulosic material, etc. (14.9%); commodities not specified according to kind (14.7%)

Myanmar

Total trade: US$18.24 billion

  • Trade balance: +US$6.16 billion

Applicable FTAs: China-ASEAN Free Trade AgreementRegional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Double taxation agreement: No

Exports: US$12.2 billion

  • Top exports: Commodities not specified according to kind (12.7%); electrical machinery, equipment, and parts, etc. (11.3%); nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances (8.8%)

Imports: US$6.04 billion

  • Top imports: Mineral fuels, mineral oils, and products of their distillation, etc. (22.1%); commodities not specified to kind (20.4%); copper and articles thereof (11.5%)

Mongolia

Total trade: US$6.49 billion

  • Trade balance: -US$3.43 billion

Applicable FTAs: N/A

Double taxation agreement: Yes

Exports: US$1.53 billion

  • Top exports: Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances (14.9%); vehicles and parts (14.4%); iron or steel articles (11.9%)

Imports: US$4.96 billion

  • Top imports: Ores, slag, and ash (48.3%); mineral fuels, mineral oils, and products of their distillation, etc. (42.6%); wool, fine or coarse animal hair, etc. (4.55%)

Nepal

Total trade: US$1.14 billion

  • Trade balance: +US$1.10 billion

Applicable FTAs: N/A

Double taxation agreement: Yes

Exports: US$1.12 billion

  • Top exports: Electrical machinery, equipment, and parts, etc. (24.3%); nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances (10.9%); apparel and clothing accessories (5.5%)

Imports: US$16.2 million

  • Top exports: Metal, miscellaneous products of base metal (24.3%); carpets and other textile floor coverings (12.3%); optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring, checking, medical, or surgical instruments and apparatus (11.2%)

North Korea

Total trade: US$534.4 million

  • Trade balance: +US$447.6 million

Applicable FTAs: N/A

Double taxation agreement: No

Exports: US$491 million

  • Top exports: Animal or vegetable fats and oils and their cleavage products (16.3%); tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes (8%); products of the milling industry, etc. (7.5%)

Imports: US$43.4 million

  • Top imports: Mineral fuels, mineral oils, and products of their distillation, etc. (25.3%); iron and steel (23.8%); clocks, watches, and parts thereof (15.7%)

Pakistan

Total trade: US$16.7 billion

  • Trade balance: +US$12.5 billion

Applicable FTA: China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement

Double taxation agreement: Yes

Exports: US$14.6 billion

  • Top exports: Electrical machinery, equipment, and parts, etc. (21.9%); nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances (16.8%); man-made filaments (5.37%)

Imports: US$2.1 billion

  • Top imports: Copper and articles thereof (29.5%); cotton (28.5%); ores, slag, and ash (9.3%)

Russia

Total trade: US$105.1 billion

  • Trade balance: -US$8.3 billion

Applicable FTAs: N/A

Double taxation agreement: Yes

Exports: US$48.4 billion

  • Top exports: Electrical machinery, equipment, and parts, etc. (21.7%); nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances (20.2%); vehicles and parts (4.27%)

Imports: US$56.7 billion

  • Top imports: Mineral fuels, mineral oils, and products of their distillation, etc. (58.6%); wood and articles of wood (6.5%); ores, slag, and ash (6%)

Tajikistan

Total trade: US$911.1 million

  • Trade balance: +US$826.9 million

Applicable FTAs: N/A

Double taxation agreement: Yes

Exports: US$869 million

  • Top exports: Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances, etc. (13.2%); electrical machinery, equipment, and parts, etc. (10.1%); vehicles and parts (7.5%)

Imports: US$42.1 million

  • Top imports: Ores, slag, and ash (70.9%); cotton (21.4%); raw hides and skins, and leather (5.3%)

Vietnam

Total trade: US$182.4 billion

  • Trade balance: +US$31.6 billion

Applicable FTAs: China-ASEAN Free Trade AgreementRegional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Double taxation agreement: Yes

Exports: US$107 billion

  • Top exports: Electrical machinery, equipment, and parts, etc. (35.6%); nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances, etc. (10.5%); plastics and articles thereof (4.5%)

Imports: US$75.4 billion

  • Top imports: Electrical machinery, equipment, and parts, etc. (62.7%); commodities not specified according to kind (5.9%); footwear, gaiters, and the like (3.2%)

 


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