China becomes EU's biggest trade partner in 2020

Tuesday, 2021-02-16 11:35:44
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Aerial photo taken on Sept. 6, 2019 shows a cargo ship of COSCO SHIPPING Lines transporting Italian products for the 2019 China International Import Expo (CIIE) to Shanghai berths at the Port of Piraeus, Greece. (Photo: Xinhua)
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China became the main trade partner of the European Union (EU) in 2020, with exports and imports both increasing despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurostat said on Monday.

According to the EU's statistical service, the bloc's imports from China throughout the year 2020 grew by 5.6 percent year-on-year to EUR383.5 billion (US$465 billion), and exports grew by 2.2 percent to EUR202.5 billion.

At the same time, the trade in goods with the United States, which had topped the EU's trade partners list until early 2020, saw substantial decline in both ways.

The EU also witnessed higher trade volume with the rest of the world in December 2020, up by EUR6.6 billion from the same month in 2019, a first year-on-year increase since it was hit by the pandemic.

The single market suffered a decrease of 9.4 percent in exports of goods and 11.6 percent decrease in imports in 2020. With industries largely affected by the containment measures last year, energy recorded by far the sharpest drop among all sectors, followed by food and drink, raw materials and chemicals.

The Eurostat release on Monday coincided with China's official data published in mid-January, which showed the trade with the EU grew by 5.3 percent to CNY4495.77 billion, or nearly EUR600 billion, in 2020.

While China's total goods imports and exports expanded 1.9 percent year on year to CNY32.16 trillion (about US$5 trillion) in 2020, hitting a record high, the surge in trade with the EU was more than double the average growth rate.

The result fully speaks for "the strong resilience and importance of China-EU economic and trade cooperation," said Zhang Ming, head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, at a webinar last month with the European thinktank, Friends of Europe.

Xinhua