China’s Growing Trade Dominance in Latin America
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China’s Growing Trade Dominance in Latin America

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Latin American trade, China versus U.S.

China’s Growing Trade Dominance in Latin America

Over the past 20 years, China’s economic presence around the world has grown significantly, including in Latin America.

Now, China is one of Latin America’s largest trade partners, which is threatening U.S. dominance in the region. This graphic by Latinometrics uses IMF data to show trade flows between China and Latin America since the 1980s.

Two Decades of Trade Growth

Four decades ago, the United States had a much stronger trade relationship with Latin America than China did. In 1981, Cuba was the only Latin American country trading more with China than the United States.

Here’s a look at total trade flows between Latin America and the two countries since 1980. Latinometrics calculated trade flows as total exports plus imports.

Trade Flows by YearU.S. & Latin AmericaChina & Latin America
1980$64,916.46M$1,149.20M
1981$68,954.16M$1,524.78M
1982$58,601.14M$1,381.61M
1983$53,347.45M$1,973.34M
1984$61,829.84M$1,573.58M
1985$62,241.61M$2,489.73M
1986$54,441.85M$1,888.88M
1987$62,890.00M$1,721.23M
1988$70,673.07M$2,433.94M
1989$79,140.76M$2,149.71M
1990$91,090.09M$1,997.48M
1991$127,120.71M$1,741.68M
1992$144,422.66M$2,051.77M
1993$159,873.67M$2,923.49M
1994$182,872.71M$3,724.97M
1995$204,901.92M$5,847.65M
1996$241,927.58M$6,711.47M
1997$290,032.40M$8,609.87M
1998$308,555.72M$8,844.21M
1999$341,504.58M$8,138.22M
2000$400,901.25M$12,452.97M
2001$371,377.08M$15,818.76M
2002$361,536.31M$19,033.47M
2003$369,218.54M$29,215.64M
2004$420,744.88M$42,242.20M
2005$477,850.02M$56,609.70M
2006$544,418.91M$77,528.04M
2007$585,446.96M$109,558.66M
2008$656,499.37M$140,274.87M
2009$493,741.65M$130,359.64M
2010$619,989.84M$193,853.31M
2011$751,891.79M$249,708.91M
2012$780,401.27M$264,908.73M
2013$785,444.16M$286,816.10M
2014$808,542.96M$281,412.70M
2015$728,071.40M$262,383.97M
2016$692,719.56M$245,403.45M
2017$750,289.25M$280,072.19M
2018$824,877.82M$331,131.25M
2019$807,868.87M$327,999.75M
2020$696,294.90M$311,584.87M
2021$895,309.53M$428,384.92M

Things stayed relatively stagnant until the early 2000s. Then suddenly, at the start of the new millennium, trade between China and Latin America started to ramp up.

This uptick was driven largely by Chinese demand for things like copper, oil, and other raw materials that the country needed to help fuel its industrial revolution.

Momentum has continued for two decades, and now China is the top trading partner in nine different Latin American countries. In fact, in 2021, imports and exports between China and Latin America (excluding Mexico) reached $247 billion—that’s $73 billion more than trade flows with the United States that same year.

Trade between China and Latin America is expected to keep growing, at least for the time being. By 2035, trade flows between the two regions are projected to more than double, according to World Economic Forum.

China’s Global Economic Presence

China’s trade takeover of Latin America speaks to a wider trend that’s happening on a global scale—over the last two decades, China has surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest trading partner.

While China is likely to remain the world’s leading trade partner for the foreseeable future, growth is likely to slow in the short-term, given ongoing supply chain issues and geopolitical tensions that have disrupted the global economy.

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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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Money

The U.S. and China Account for Half the World’s Household Wealth

This visualization breaks down how household wealth is distributed around the world. Just 10 countries now account for 75% of total household wealth.

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The U.S. and China Account for Half the World’s Household Wealth

Measures like GDP are commonly used to understand the overall wealth and size of the economy. While looking at economic output on an annual basis is useful, there are other metrics to consider when evaluating the wealth of a nation.

Household wealth statistics reveal which country’s citizens are accruing the highest level of money and assets worldwide.

This visual utilizes data from Credit Suisse’s annual Global Wealth Report to break down the latest estimates for household wealth by country.

Household Wealth, by Country

Here’s how the world’s $463 trillion in household wealth is distributed:

RankCountryHousehold Wealth (2022)% of World Total
#1🇺🇸 United States$145.8T31.5%
#2🇨🇳 China$85.1T18.4%
#3🇯🇵 Japan$25.7T5.5%
#4🇩🇪 Germany$17.5T3.8%
#5🇬🇧 United Kingdom$16.3T3.5%
#6🇫🇷 France$16.2T3.5%
#7🇮🇳 India$14.2T3.1%
#8🇨🇦 Canada$12.4T2.7%
#9🇮🇹 Italy$11.5T2.5%
#10🇦🇺 Australia$10.6T2.3%
#11🇰🇷 South Korea$10.1T2.2%
#12🇪🇸 Spain$8.4T1.8%
#13🇹🇼 Taiwan$5.9T1.3%
#14🇳🇱 Netherlands$5.4T1.2%
#15🇨🇭 Switzerland$4.9T1.1%
Rest of World$73.6T15.6%
Total:$463.6T100.0%

As the table above demonstrates, global household wealth is far from being distributed equally.

Country-Level Wealth Concentration

Much of global wealth is concentrated in the biggest economies, with households in China and the U.S. combining to make up half of all personal wealth in the world. This differs slightly from using GDP as a measure, where the U.S. and China make up 24% and 19% of the world economy in nominal terms, respectively.

Today, just 10 countries account for 75% of total household wealth.

One of the biggest changes in recent years is the rise of wealth in China. A decade ago, China’s citizens were estimated to hold just 9% of the world’s wealth. That figure has now more than doubled, while median wealth in the country has skyrocketed from $3,111 to $26,752 between 2000 and 2021.

A Regional Look at Household Wealth

From a regional standpoint, wealth is equally split three ways, between North America, Asia, and everywhere else.

Chart showing global household wealth by region

In just one decade, Europe’s share of household wealth dropped by eight percentage points, which is due, in part, to the economic momentum of China.

Surprisingly, the regions of Africa, South America, Oceania, and the Middle East combine only for about 11% of the world’s total household wealth.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Global Wealth Report by Credit Suisse

Data note: There is no straightforward way of estimating household wealth in various countries, so the report utilizes three main measures including: a country’s average level of wealth, the patterns of a country’s wealth holdings, and Forbes list of billionaires.

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Misc

Ranked: The World’s Most Surveilled Cities

The world’s most surveilled cities contain hundreds of thousands of cameras. View this infographic to see the data in perspective.

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Ranked: The World’s Most Surveilled Cities

This may come as a surprise, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the global urban population overtook the rural population. At that time, the two groups were split nearly 50/50, with around 3.3 billion people apiece.

Today, the percentage of people living in urban areas has grown to over 55%, and is expected to reach 68% by 2050. Due to this trend, many of the world’s largest cities have become home to tens of millions of people.

In response to such incredible density, governments, businesses, and households have installed countless security cameras for various purposes including crime protection. To grasp the scale of this surveillance, we’ve taken data from a recent report by Comparitech to visualize the most surveilled cities in the world.

The List (Excluding China)

Excluding China for the time being, these are the world’s 10 most surveilled cities.

CityPopulationNumber of CamerasCameras per
1,000 people
🇮🇳 Indore, India3.2M200,60063
🇮🇳 Hyderabad, India10.5M440,29942
🇮🇳 Delhi, India16.3M436,60027
🇮🇳 Chennai, India11.5M282,12625
🇸🇬 Singapore6.0M108,98118
🇷🇺 Moscow, Russia12.6M213,00017
🇮🇶 Baghdad, Iraq7.5M120,00016
🇬🇧 London, UK9.5M127,37313
🇷🇺 St. Petersburg, Russia5.5M70,00013
🇺🇸 Los Angeles, U.S.3.9M34,9599

Figures rounded

The top four cities all belong to India, which is the world’s second largest country by population. Surveillance cameras are playing a major role in the country’s efforts to reduce crimes against women.

Further down the list are cities from a variety of countries. One of these is Russia, which has expanded its use of surveillance cameras in recent years. Given the country’s track record of human rights violations, activists are worried that facial recognition technology could become a tool of oppression.

The only U.S. city on the list is Los Angeles, which contains some of the country’s wealthiest neighborhoods and municipalities. That includes Beverly Hills, which according to the Los Angeles Times, has over 2,000 cameras for its population of 32,500. That translates to about 62 cameras per 1,000 people, meaning that Beverly Hills would finish at #2 in the global ranking if it were listed as a separate entity.

Surveillance in China

IHS Markit estimates that as of 2021, there are over 1 billion surveillance cameras installed worldwide. The firm also believes that 54% of these cameras are located in China.

Because of limited transparency, it’s impossible to pinpoint how many cameras are actually in each Chinese city. However, if we assume that China has 540 million cameras and divide that amongst its population of 1.46 billion, we can reasonably say that there are 373 cameras per 1,000 people (figures rounded).

Cameras in China

A limitation of this approach is that it assumes everyone in China lives in a city, which is far from reality. The most recent World Bank figures suggest that 37% of China’s population is rural, which equates to over 500 million people.

With this in mind, the number of cameras per 1,000 people in a Tier 1+ Chinese city (e.g. Shanghai) is likely far greater than 373.

More About China

China’s expansive use of cameras and facial recognition technology has been widely documented in the media. These networks enable the country’s social credit program, which gives local governments an unprecedented amount of oversight over its citizens.

For example, China’s camera networks can be used to verify ATM withdrawals, permit access into homes, and even publicly shame people for minor offences like jaywalking.

This might sound like a dystopian nightmare to Western audiences, but according to Chinese citizens, it’s mostly a good thing. In a 2018 survey of 2,209 citizens, 80% of respondents approved of social credit systems.

If you’re interested in learning more about surveillance in Chinese cities, consider this video from The Economist, which explores the opportunities and dangers of comprehensive state control.

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