China edges past US as Europe’s top trade partner

People watch as the largest container ship in the world, the HMM Algeciras, arrives in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 3 June 2020. [Pieter Stam de Longe/EPA/EFE]

China pushed past the United States in the third quarter to become the European Union’s top trade partner, as the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the US while Chinese activity rebounded.

Over the first nine months of 2020, trade between the EU and China totalled €425.5 billion, while trade between the EU and the United States came in at €412.5 billion, according to Eurostat data.

For the same period in 2019, the EU’s trade with China came in at €413.4 billion and €461 billion with the US.

Eurostat said the result was due to a 4.5% increase in imports from China while exports remained unchanged.

“At the same time trade with the United States recorded a significant drop in both imports (-11.4%) and exports (-10.0%),” Eurostat said.

The EU has been China’s top trade partner since 2004 when it overtook Japan, but this is the first time the inverse has been true, France’s Insee statistics agency said Wednesday (2 December).

After a Covid-19-related shock in the first quarter the Chinese economy has rebounded, with the economy growing year-on-year in the third quarter.

Insee said Chinese imports from Europe picked up in the third quarter, while purchases of personal protective equipment had boosted Chinese exports.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe
Contribute