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Charting and Mapping China’s Exports Since 2001

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A map and graph of the destination and growth of China's exports in the 21st century.

Charting and Mapping China’s Exports Since 2001

Between the dawn of the Roman Empire and the first factory built in the Industrial Revolution, China was one of the most powerful economies on the planet, with a gross domestic product that made up roughly 30% of the global economy.

By the 1970s, the country’s economy had regressed to a shadow of its historic self, with a per-capita income equal to one-third of sub-Saharan Africa. But over the next four decades, China’s rapid industrial transformation made it the manufacturing powerhouse of the world, and exports rapidly ballooned.

Which markets are receiving all of these exports? This graphic from Ehsan Soltani uses data from the World Trade Organization and the customs office of China to track the biggest destinations of China’s merchandise exports—defined as goods that leave the territory of a country—since the 2000s.

China’s Top Export Markets from 2001‒2022

In 2001, when China joined the World Trade Organization, the value of its merchandise exports stood at $266 billion. Over the next seven years, the country’s exports grew uninterrupted until the 2008 financial crisis caused a sharp decline in global trade.

This cycle would repeat again with consecutive growth until 2015 (another global trade slowdown), followed by slowed growth until 2020 (the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic).

But merchandise exports skyrocketed by 30% in 2021, and by the end of 2022 had grown to an estimated $3.6 trillion per year. That means China’s exports alone are bigger than the entire economies of countries like the UK, India, and France.

Which countries were receiving most of these merchandise exports? Here are China’s top export markets from 2022 and their change since 2001:

China's Export Market20012022Change (%)
🇺🇸 U.S.$54,355M$581,783M970%
🇪🇺 EU$37,922M$562,000M1,382%
🇭🇰 Hong Kong$46,541M$297,538M539%
🇯🇵 Japan$44,941M$172,927M285%
🇰🇷 South Korea$12,519M$162,621M1,199%
🇻🇳 Viet Nam$1,798M$146,960M8,074%
🇮🇳 India$1,896M$118,502M6,150%
🇲🇾 Malaysia$3,221M$93,711M2,809%
🇹🇼 Taiwan$5,001M$81,587M1,531%
🇬🇧 UK$6,781M$81,545M1,103%
🌎 Rest of the World$48,847M$1,294,427M2,550%
Total$263,822M$3,593,601M1,261%

Despite Trump-era tariffs and a growing geopolitical rift over the last few years, the U.S. has been the biggest market for China’s exports for the last two decades. In 2022, the country received nearly $582 billion in goods from China.

Close behind, the 27 member states of the European Union rank as the second biggest market for exported Chinese goods at $562 billion. The largest individual country was the Netherlands, which accounted for $118 billion or just under 21% of Chinese merchandise exports to the EU.

How do other individual countries compare? Below is the full list of China’s export markets in 2022 by countries and territories:

Country / TerritoryChina Exports (2022)
U.S.$581,783M
Hong Kong$297,538M
Japan$172,927M
South Korea$162,621M
Viet Nam$146,960M
India$118,502M
Netherlands$117,731M
Germany$116,227M
Malaysia$93,711M
Taiwan$81,587M
UK$81,545M
Singapore$81,168M
Australia$78,827M
Thailand$78,480M
Mexico$77,535M
Russia$76,123M
Indonesia$71,318M
Philippines$64,679M
Brazil$61,970M
U.A.E$53,862M
Canada$53,705M
Italy$50,908M
France$45,663M
Spain$41,750M
Poland$38,163M
Saudi Arabia$37,990M
Belgium$35,635M
Türkiye$34,034M
Bangladesh$26,808M
South Africa$24,196M
Pakistan$23,089M
Chile$22,520M
Nigeria$22,300M
Czech Republic$18,227M
Egypt$17,170M
Israel$16,481M
Kazakhstan$16,355M
Colombia$15,600M
Kyrgyzstan$15,421M
Cambodia$14,184M
Iraq$13,989M
Myanmar$13,616M
Peru$13,532M
Greece$12,988M
Argentina$12,769M
Panama$12,647M
Sweden$11,396M
Hungary$10,473M
Denmark$10,192M
Iran$9,440M
New Zealand$9,175M
Kenya$8,249M
Ghana$7,926M
Tanzania$7,775M
Switzerland$7,619M
Liberia$7,520M
Uzbekistan$7,504M
Romania$7,397M
Slovenia$6,861M
Ecuador$6,288M
Algeria$6,276M
Portugal$5,978M
Morocco$5,741M
Ireland$5,726M
Jordan$5,707M
Norway$5,191M
Austria$5,119M
Congo, DR$5,118M
Kuwait$4,970M
Finland$4,553M
Slovakia$4,436M
Guatemala$4,366M
Dominican Republic$4,319M
Macao$4,277M
Oman$4,205M
Angola$4,097M
Senegal$4,068M
Qatar$3,989M
Sri Lanka$3,755M
Cote d'Ivoire$3,491M
Marshall Islands$3,468M
Ukraine$3,300M
Mozambique$3,292M
Belarus$3,275M
Djibouti$3,262M
Togo$3,177M
Cameroon$3,167M
Venezuela$3,009M
Uruguay$2,983M
Mongolia$2,887M
Bulgaria$2,852M
Yemen$2,798M
Lebanon$2,516M
Libya$2,373M
Costa Rica$2,369M
Lao$2,340M
Guinea$2,283M
Croatia$2,266M
Tajikistan$2,217M
Ethiopia$2,217M
Serbia$2,177M
Sudan$2,034M
Malta$1,974M
Paraguay$1,895M
Tunisia$1,880M
Lithuania$1,790M
Bahrian$1,772M
Benin$1,691M
El Salvador$1,659M
Nepal$1,655M
Honduras$1,560M
Madagascar$1,455M
Papua New Guinea$1,426M
Georgia$1,252M
Cyprus$1,168M
Azerbaijan$1,136M
Zimbabwe$1,125M
Uganda$1,077M
Bolivia$1,067M
Somalia$1,047M
Jamaica$1,039M
Latvia$1,025M
Zambia$980M
Republic of Congo$976M
Mauritius$974M
Puerto Rico$973M
Estonia$947M
Mauritania$941M
North Korea$894M
Turkmenistan$868M
Brunei$831M
Nicaragua$724M
Albania$704M
Niger$676M
Haiti$635M
Gabon$583M
Mali$581M
Guyana$577M
Sierra Leone$573M
Namibia$557M
Afghanistan$553M
Trinidad and Tobago$544M
Luxembourg$526M
Burkina Faso$504M
Fiji$503M
Armenia$480M
Gambia$454M
Maldives$451M
Syria$425M
Cuba$414M
Rwanda$407M
Bahamas$397M
Belize$328M
Suriname$321M
Iceland$311M
Timor-Leste$290M
Chad$282M
Malawi$281M
Reunion$250M
North Macedonia$235M
Equatorial Guinea$231M
Botswana$221M
Montenegro$219M
Moldova$207M
Solomon Islands$196M
Bosnia and Hercegovina$185M
New Caledonia$169M
Bhutan$166M
Barbados$161M
Palestine$158M
South Sudan$157M
French Polynesia$154M
Eritrea$148M
Samoa$124M
Burundi$120M
Virgin Islands,British$109M
Antigua and Barbuda$105M
Vanuatu$96M
Seychelles$96M
Cape Verde$93M
Bermuda$83M
Swaziland$82M
Guadeloupe$68M
Comoros$67M
Liechtenstein$64M
Aruba$64M
Curacao$61M
Lesotho$60M
Mayotte$59M
Tonga$57M
Guinea-Bissau$57M
Cayman Islands$55M
Palau$54M
Central African Republic$52M
Martinique$48M
Kiribati$43M
French Guiana$39M
Saint Lucia$36M
Dominica$34M
Tuvalu$33M
Micronesia,FS$30M
Netherlands Antilles$26M
Grenada$23M
Andorra$22M
St.Vincent&Grenadines$22M
Gibraltar$18M
Sao Tome and Principe$15M
St.Kitts&Nevis$15M
Nauru$13M
Monaco$12M
Cook Islands$12M
Turks&Caicos Islands$10M
San Marino$10M
Saint Martin Islands$5M
Canary Islands$2M
Faroe Islands$2M
Wallis and Futuna$2M
Norfolk Island$2M
Western Sahara$1M
Greenland$1M
Society Islands$1M

Will China’s Exports Continue to Grow?

Like the broader global economy, the Chinese economy is starting to re-adjust.

For one, the country is beginning to rebalance exports from its manufacturing-heavy mix to a more even allocation of both manufacturing and services. Secondly, the economy’s overall reliance on exports has decreased significantly from its highs in the mid-2000s, with an aim to increase domestic consumption and have a more self-sufficient economy overall.

That’s not to say that Chinese dominance on the world export stage is expected to waver. With far-reaching economic policies like the One Belt, One Road initiative and the RCEP trade agreement between 15 countries in Asia and Oceania, there are plenty of future growth avenues for Chinese exports.

As the country faces an unprecedented internal demographic shift in the coming decades, perhaps China’s robust export sector will be key to continued economic growth.

Curious about China’s economy before its communist revolution? Check out Vintage Viz: China’s Export Economy in the Early 20th Century for some early data analysis.
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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Real Estate

Charted: U.S. Median House Prices vs. Income

We chart the ever-widening gap between median incomes and the median price of houses in America, using data from the Federal Reserve from 1984 to 2022.

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A cropped chart with the ever-widening gap between median house prices vs. income in America, using data from the Federal Reserve from 1984 to 2022.

Houses in America Now Cost Six Times the Median Income

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

As of 2023, an American household hoping to buy a median-priced home, needs to make at least $100,000 a year. In some cities, they need to make nearly 3–4x that amount.

The median household income in the country is currently well below that $100,000 threshold. To look at the trends between median incomes and median house prices through the years, we charted their movement using the following datasets data from the Federal Reserve:

Importantly this graphic does not make allowances for actual household disposable income, nor how monthly mortgage payments change depending on the interest rates at the time. Finally, both datasets are in current U.S. dollars, meaning they are not adjusted for inflation.

Timeline: Median House Prices vs. Income in America

In 1984, the median annual income for an American household stood at $22,420, and the median house sales price for the first quarter of the year came in at $78,200. The house sales price-to-income ratio stood at 3.49.

By pure arithmetic, this is the most affordable houses have been in the U.S. since the Federal Reserve began tracking this data, as seen in the table below.

A hidden caveat of course, was inflation: running rampant towards the end of the 70s and the start of the 80s. While it fell significantly in the next five years, in 1984 the 30-year fixed rate was close to 14%, meaning a significant chunk of household income went to interest payments.

DateMedian House
Sales Price
Median Household
Income
Price-to-Income Ratio
1984-01-01$78,200$22,4203.49
1985-01-01$82,800$23,6203.51
1986-01-01$88,000$24,9003.53
1987-01-01$97,900$26,0603.76
1988-01-01$110,000$27,2304.04
1989-01-01$118,000$28,9104.08
1990-01-01$123,900$29,9404.14
1991-01-01$120,000$30,1303.98
1992-01-01$119,500$30,6403.90
1993-01-01$125,000$31,2404.00
1994-01-01$130,000$32,2604.03
1995-01-01$130,000$34,0803.81
1996-01-01$137,000$35,4903.86
1997-01-01$145,000$37,0103.92
1998-01-01$152,200$38,8903.91
1999-01-01$157,400$40,7003.87
2000-01-01$165,300$41,9903.94
2001-01-01$169,800$42,2304.02
2002-01-01$188,700$42,4104.45
2003-01-01$186,000$43,3204.29
2004-01-01$212,700$44,3304.80
2005-01-01$232,500$46,3305.02
2006-01-01$247,700$48,2005.14
2007-01-01$257,400$50,2305.12
2008-01-01$233,900$50,3004.65
2009-01-01$208,400$49,7804.19
2010-01-01$222,900$49,2804.52
2011-01-01$226,900$50,0504.53
2012-01-01$238,400$51,0204.67
2013-01-01$258,400$53,5904.82
2014-01-01$275,200$53,6605.13
2015-01-01$289,200$56,5205.12
2016-01-01$299,800$59,0405.08
2017-01-01$313,100$61,1405.12
2018-01-01$331,800$63,1805.25
2019-01-01$313,000$68,7004.56
2020-01-01$329,000$68,0104.84
2021-01-01$369,800$70,7805.22
2022-01-01$433,100$74,5805.81

Note: The median house sale price listed in this table and in the chart is from the first quarter of each year. As a result the ratio can vary between quarters of each year.

The mid-2000s witnessed an explosive surge in home prices, eventually culminating in a housing bubble and subsequent crash—an influential factor in the 2008 recession. Subprime mortgages played a pivotal role in this scenario, as they were issued to buyers with poor credit and then bundled into seemingly more attractive securities for financial institutions. However, these loans eventually faltered as economic circumstances changed.

In response to the recession and to stimulate economic demand, the Federal Reserve reduced interest rates, consequently lowering mortgage rates.

While this measure aimed to make homeownership more accessible, it also contributed to a significant increase in housing prices in the following years. Additionally, a new generation entering the home-buying market heightened demand. Simultaneously, a scarcity of new construction and a surge in investors and corporations converting housing units into rental properties led to a shortage in supply, exerting upward pressure on prices.

As a result, median house prices are now nearly 6x the median household income in America.

How Does Unaffordable Housing Affect the U.S. Economy?

When housing costs exceed a significant portion of household income, families are forced to cut back on other essential expenditures, dampening consumer spending. Given how expanding housing supply helped drive U.S. economic growth in the 20th century, the current constraints in the country are especially ironic.

Unaffordable housing also stifles mobility, as individuals may be reluctant to relocate for better job opportunities due to housing constraints. On the flip side, many cities are seeing severe labor shortages as many lower-wage workers simply cannot afford to live in the city. Both phenomena affect market efficiency and productivity growth.

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