Significant increase in EU imports from China

Trade with China, the EU’s third-largest export destination and the largest import partner, has increased significantly in 2021. The COVID-19 crisis caused both exports and imports between the EU and China to slow down in the first months of 2020, but both quickly recovered over the following months.

Between 2011 and 2021, both exports to and imports from China increased. In this period, EU exports to China were highest in 2021 (EUR 223 billion) and lowest in 2011 (EUR 127 billion), registering an average year on year growth rate of 7 %. As for imports from China, they were highest in 2021 (EUR 472 billion) and lowest in 2013 (EUR 239 billion). The average year on year growth rate for imports was 6 % in that period.

Between 2011 and 2021, the EU continuously recorded a trade deficit with China, increasing from EUR 129 billion in 2011 to a peak value of EUR 249 billion in 2021.

In 2021, China was the third-largest partner for EU exports of goods (10 % of extra-EU exports), trading mainly machinery and vehicles (52 % of exports to China), other manufactured goods (20 %) and chemicals (15 %).

In 2021, China was the largest partner for EU imports of goods (22 % of extra-EU imports) in the same product groups: machinery and vehicles (56% of imports from China), other manufactured goods (35 %) and chemicals (7 %).

This article is published on the occasion of the EU-China Summit being held on April 1, 2022.

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Methodological note:

  • Trade with China does not include trade with Hong Kong.