China very likely to overtake US as world’s largest goods trader

Frances colour

According to Zheng Yuesheng, a spokesman for China’s customs administration, China is set to become the world’s largest trading country.

Based upon the latest data, China’s total trade grew at an annual rate of 7.6% to $4.16tn (£2.5tn) last year.  Whist the US is yet to release it full-year figures, trade for the first 11 months of 2013 totalled $3.5tn.

China became the world’s biggest goods exporter in 2009. Its imports have also risen amid an expansion in its economy.

However, there have been recent concerns over the accuracy of China’s export data.

There has been speculation that some Chinese exporters may be overstating their shipments in an attempt to bypass restrictions on bringing funds into the country.

In May 2013, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), China foreign exchange regulator, said it would increase its scrutiny of export invoices and impose tougher penalties on firms providing false data.

Sun Junwei, China economist at HSBC, said the “recent measures could be working to squeeze out these fake trade activities”.

Some analysts commented that even if the issue of inflated numbers was taken into account, China would still take the top spot from the US.

“The gap between the overall trade of China and the US is likely to be almost $250bn in 2013,” Rajiv Biswas, chief economist Asia-pacific at IHS, told the BBC.

“That is a significant difference and it is unlikely that any adjustment to the final figures will alter the position of the two countries.”

Mr Biswas added that the gap between the two countries was likely to become even wider in the current year.