China’s position as the globe’s biggest trading nation is likely, though it has yet to be confirmed: annual trade in goods passed the $4 trillion mark in 2013, for the first time. The General Administration of Customs announced exports from China rose 7.9 percent, to $2.21 trillion; imports increased 7.3 percent, to $1.95 trillion. Trade surplus was up 12.8 percent from 2012 and ended the year at $259.75 billion.
The United States’ total trade in goods was lower than China’s in 2012. Differences in calculation methods and unavailability of full US data for the year, is making it difficult to determine whether or not China overtook the US in total trade in 2013. However, Customs spokesman Zheng Yuesheng has said that "it is very likely that China overtook the US to become the world’s largest trading country in goods in 2013 for the first time." China’s trading partners, from greatest to least, are: the European Union, the United States, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Hong Kong and Japan.
Societe Generale economist Yao Wei of Hong Kong views China’s import gains as a positive sign. It suggests that "the domestic growth momentum was largely intact at year end." Trade performance in China was somewhat stalled at the beginning of 2013, but showed increases in the final six months of the year.
Also notable in 2013 was the gain in China’s yuan currency. Against the dollar, the yuan gained more than three percent despite worries over the economy and despite US political pressure to allow the yuan to appreciate.
China’s annual GDP figures are expected to be released on January 20.