China dethroned the US as the EU’s top trading partner

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China first became the European Union’s largest trading partner in 2020, overtaking the United States, thanks to the rapid rebound of its economy less affected by the Covid-19 pandemic than that of its Western partners.

Over the past year as a whole, the EU’s trade with China totaled $ 586 billion (adding exports and imports), compared with the US’s $ 555 billion, according to figures released Monday by the european institute of statistics.

“During the year 2020, China was the EU’s main partner,” Eurostat said in a statement.

If the EU was already China’s first trading partner since 2004 – it had then overtaken Japan – this is the first time that the reverse is also true, that is to say that China dethrones the States -United vis-à-vis Europe.

According to Eurostat, this result is due to an increase in European imports from China (+ 5.6% in 2020 compared to 2019) as well as European exports to China (+ 2.2%).

At the same time, trade with the United States registered a significant decline for both imports (-13.2%) and exports (-8.2%).

After suffering from the Covid-19 epidemic during the first quarter, the Chinese economy recovered vigorously and consumption even exceeded at the end of the year its level of a year ago, driving European sales, in particular in automotive and luxury goods.

China’s exports to Europe have benefited from strong demand for medical equipment and electronic products.

The EU has seen its trade deficit worsen with China. It went from -164.7 billion euros in 2019 to -181 billion last year. At the same time, the surplus with the United States remained stable at around 151 billion euros.

The United Kingdom, which is no longer part of the European Union, is now its third largest trading partner, behind China and the United States.

However, European exports to that country fell 13.2% last year, and imports by 13.9%.

In total, the European Union recorded a sharply increasing trade surplus in 2020 vis-à-vis the rest of the world, to 217.3 billion euros, against 191.5 billion in 2019.

The figure is even higher for the 19 countries of the euro area: surplus of 234.5 billion euros last year, against 221 billion the previous year.