China passes US as the EUs largest trading partner

China passed the United States last year as Europes largest trading partner.

According to statistics office Eurostat, EU-China trade amounted to EUR 586 billion last year. Between the US and Europe, EUR 555 billion was involved.

Both imports (minus 13.2%) from the USA and exports (minus 8.2 percent) to the country fell significantly. There was an increase in trade with China. Exports to China increased by 2.2% and imports from the country thickness by 5.6%.

The trade deficit with China continued to increase and amounted to 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 fell largely to a halt due to the coronacrisis. The recovery since then was strong and consumption was even above pre-crisis levels at the end of last year.

Automotive and luxury industries

This has stimulated sales of European products, particularly in the automotive and luxury goods sector, while Chinas exports to Europe benefited from the strong demand for medical equipment and electronics.

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

The dethroning 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.


United Kingdom

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

EU exports to the United Kingdom fell by 13.2%, while imports from over the channel fell by 13.9%.