How China Became the Largest EU Trade Partner
Historically, America has long been the EU’s top country to trade with, but in 2020, that trend came to a screeching halt.
A $26.7 billion boost for Chinese imports, in addition to a $5.3 billion increase in EU exports, has resulted in China officially becoming the EU’s largest trade partner.
This data looks at a decade of growing trade between the EU and China.
|Year||Imports from China ($B)||Exports to China ($B)||Total Trade Value ($B)|
Playing Catch Up
Displacing the U.S. as a trade partner serves as yet another reminder that China is playing catch up to America’s economy. In 2020, there was an approximate $5.6 trillion gap in nominal GDP between the two nations. A decade ago, the gap was larger at $9 trillion.
The gap continues to shrink due to the differing growth rates in GDP. Between 2010-2020, U.S. nominal GDP growth was in the 1-2% range. During the same time, China’s GDP growth ranged from a high of 10.6% to a low of 6.1%.
An Economic Love Story
If you’re counting on China to run out of stuff to sell, don’t hold your breath. China is a manufacturing titan, and has become a top trading partner of 128 countries. EU imports from China grew 35% in the last decade, and overall imports were worth around $463 billion in 2020.
The EU buys much more from China than what it sells. Exports valued at $245 billion make up just over half (52%) of what it imports. As a result, the EU has a ballooning trade deficit.
Challenging the U.S. for the economic throne is hardly a new endeavor. In the post-WWII era, Japan experienced a similar economic trajectory. And at the time, concerns about Japan surpassing America were alive and well. At one point, Japanese equities collectively represented some 46% of global stock market capitalization, and the value of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo was notionally worth more than all the real estate in California.
But eventually things began to subside, and a new challenger in China emerged. Today, China is experiencing similar milestones that hint at a growing economic power. Such as Beijing becoming the top city for global billionaires.
Will the 21st century mimic the 20th? Or will we witness the U.S. fall from the top of the economic food chain?
Chart: 30 Years of Wildfires in America
Here’s a look at the number of wildfires in America that have occurred each year since 1990, and the acres of forest land scorched during that period.
30 Years of Wildfires in America
This summer, record-breaking droughts and relentless heat waves have fueled disastrous wildfires across the United States. It’s gotten so bad, the state of California has decided to shut down all national parks for two weeks to stop the spread.
But how disastrous has this year been compared to previous years? This graphic gives a historical look at the number of wildfires in America that have occurred each year since 1990, and the acres of forest land scorched during that period.
Total Wildland Fires and Acres from 1990 to 2020
In the U.S., an average of 70,000 wildfires burn through 5.8 million acres of land each year. But some years have been worse than others.
|Year||# of Fires||# of Acres Burned|
*note: 2021 figures as of September 3, 2021
One particularly bad year was 2006, which had over 96,000 fires and destroyed 9.9 million acres of land across the country. It was the year of the Esperanza Fire in California, which burned 40,000 acres and cost $9 million in damages.
2015 was also a devastating year, with over 10.1 million acres destroyed across the country–the worst year on record, in terms of acres burned.
Climate Change’s Role in Wildfires
Wildfires are only expected to worsen in the near future since warmer temperatures and drier climates allow the fires to grow quickly and intensely.
We’re already starting to see climate change impact the wildfire season. For instance, autumn is usually peak wildfire season for California, but this year, one of the largest fires on record started in mid-July, and is still burning as of the date of publication.
Visualizing the Typical Atlantic Hurricane Season
While the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June to late November, about 85% of activity happens between August, September, and October.
Explained: The Typical Atlantic Hurricane Season
On August 29, 2021, Hurricane Ida hurled into the state of Louisiana at rapid speed. With winds of 150 mph, preliminary reports believe it’s the fifth strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. mainland.
As research shows, Hurricane Ida’s impact hit right at the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. Here’s a brief explainer on the basics of hurricanes, how storms are classified, and what a typical storm season looks like in the Atlantic Basin.
Let’s dive in.
Classifying a Storm
Hurricanes are intense tropical storms that are classified by their wind speed. What’s the difference between a hurricane, a typhoon, and a cyclone? They’re essentially the same thing, but are named differently based on their location:
- Hurricane is used for storms that formed in the North Atlantic, central North Pacific, and eastern North Pacific (impacting countries like the U.S.)
- Typhoon is used for storms in the Northwest Pacific (impacting countries like Japan)
- Tropical Cyclone is used for storms in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean (impacting countries like Fiji and India)
Since we’re focusing on the Atlantic, we’ll be using the term hurricane and/or storm throughout the rest of this article.
A storm needs to reach a certain wind speed before it gets classified as a hurricane. Storms with wind speeds of:
- <73 mph are considered Tropical Storms
- 74-110 mph winds are considered Hurricanes
- 111 mph+ winds are considered Major Hurricanes
Breaking Down the Atlantic Hurricane Season
Generally, Hurricanes form in the warm ocean waters in the central Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, following westward trade winds and curving up towards the North American mainland. Hurricanes are formed when these specific elements come into play:
- A pre-existing weather disturbance such as a tropical wave
- Water at least 80ºF (27ºC) with a depth of at least 50 meters
- Thunderstorm activity
- Low wind shear (too much wind can remove the heat and moisture hurricanes use for fuel)
The Atlantic hurricane season technically lasts six months, beginning on June 1st and ending in late November. However, 85% of activity happens between August, September, and October.
Each subregion in the Atlantic has its own unique climatology, which means peak seasons can vary from place to place—for example, south Florida sees the most hurricanes in October, while the entire Atlantic Basin’s peak season is early-to-mid September.
Climate Change and Hurricanes
According to the Center of Climate Change and Energy Solutions, it’s unclear whether climate change will increase the number of hurricanes per year.
However, research indicates that warmer weather and high ocean temperatures will most likely lead to more intense storms, ultimately causing more damage and devastation.
» Want to learn more about climate change? Here’s an article on The Paris Agreement: Is The World’s Climate Action Plan on Track?
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