China surpasses US as the EU largest trading partner

China has surpassed the United States as Europe’s largest trading partner by 2020. Figures from Eurostat Statistics Office show this on Monday. Last year, trade between the European Union and China amounted to EUR 586 billion. Between the US and Europe, EUR 555 billion were involved.

Both imports (minus 13.2 percent) from the US and exports (minus 8.2%) to the country decreased significantly. On the contrary, there was an increase in trade with China.

Exports to China increased by 2.2 percent and imports from the country increased by 5.6%. The trade deficit with China increased further, reaching EUR 181 billion last year. With the US, Europe has a surplus of EUR 150.9 billion.

Trade with China gained the upper hand after the first quarter. In those first months of the year, the Chinese economy was largely stagnant due to the coronacrisis. The recovery since then has been strong and consumption was even above pre-crisis levels at the end of last year.

This has encouraged the sale of European products, particularly in the automotive and luxury goods sector, while China’s exports to Europe benefited from the strong demand for medical equipment and electronics.

Apart from the COVD-19, transatlantic trade with the US has been hampered by a series of back and forth measures. They have led to tariffs on steel and products such as French champagne or Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

The removal of the US comes at a time when the EU and China are trying to reach an investment agreement that would give European companies better access to the Chinese market.

The UK, which is no longer part of the EU, stands at three when it comes to the country’s main trading partner. According to Eurostat, trade with the UK fell sharply in 2020, the year in which Britain officially left the country, although it was in a transitional period until 31 December to mitigate the effects of the Brexit.

EU exports to the UK fell by 13.2%, while imports fell by 13.9%.

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