How China Became Saudi Arabia’s Largest Trading Partner
Saudi Arabia’s Trade With China Surpasses the West
Over the past two decades, the economic presence of China has been growing significantly around the world.
The country has already surpassed the U.S. as the largest trading partner of developed nations such as Japan and the European Union.
But the world’s second largest economy is making significant inroads in the Middle East as well. This graphic by Ehsan Soltani uses data from the World Trade Organization (WTO) to chart Saudi Arabia’s trading history with the EU, the U.S, and China.
Evolving Trade Relations
With China’s imports from and exports to Saudi Arabia now exceeding the major oil-producing country’s combined trade with the U.S. and the EU, China has become Saudi Arabia’s dominant trading partner.
|Saudi Arabia Net Trade by Year||With China ($B)||With U.S. ($B)||With EU-27 ($B)|
Back in 2001, Saudi Arabia’s trade with China was a mere fraction—just one-tenth—of its combined trade with the EU and United States. While the total value of trade was modest at this time, it’s been increasing consistently almost every year since.
By the year 2011, China had surpassed the U.S. for the first time in bilateral trade value with Saudi Arabia. Then by 2018, trade between China and Saudi Arabia surpassed the Middle-Eastern country’s trade with the entire EU.
Fast forward to today, and China has emerged as a larger trading partner with Saudi Arabia than the rest of the West combined.
The Perfect Match?
China’s status as Saudi Arabia’s biggest trading partner makes sense considering its recent economic growth and focus.
China is the largest buyer of crude oil in the world, and it buys more from the Saudi Arabia than anywhere else. Almost half of the $87.3 billion bilateral trade between the two nations in 2021 was comprised of China’s crude oil imports. This accounted for 77% of China’s total imports from Saudi Arabia, which also included goods like plastic—a petroleum product.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, imported over $30 billion worth of goods including technological equipment, telephones, and light fixtures.
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.
Timeline: Cannabis Legislation in the U.S.
At the federal level, cannabis is illegal, but state laws differ. This graphic looks at the timelines of cannabis legislation in the U.S.
Timeline: Cannabis Legislation in the U.S.
At the federal level, cannabis is still considered an illegal substance. That said, individual states do have the right to determine their own laws around cannabis sales and usage.
This visual from New Frontier Data looks at the status of cannabis in every state and the timeline of when medical and/or recreational use became legal.
Cannabis Through the Years
In the U.S., the oldest legalese concerning cannabis dates back to the 1600s—the colony of Virginia required every farm to grow and produce hemp. Since then, cannabis use was fairly wide open until the 1930s when the Marihuana Tax Act was enforced, prohibiting marijuana federally but still technically allowing medical use.
Jumping ahead, the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1970, classifying cannabis as Schedule I drug—the same category as heroin. This prohibited any use of the substance.
However, the 1970s also saw a counter movement, wherein many states made the move towards decriminalization. Decriminalization means that although possessing cannabis remained illegal, a person would not be subject to jail time or prosecution for possessing certain amounts.
By the 1990s, some of the first states passed laws to allow the medical usage of cannabis, and by 2012 two states in the U.S.—Washington and Colorado—legalized the recreational use of cannabis.
Cannabis Legislation Today and Beyond
The MORE Act (the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act) was passed in the House early 2022, and if made law, it would decriminalize marijuana federally.
“This bill decriminalizes marijuana. Specifically, it removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes, or possesses marijuana.”– U.S. Congress
Cannabis still remains illegal at the federal level, but at the state levels, cannabis is now fully legal (both for medicinal and recreational purposes) in a total of 22 states.
Over 246 million Americans have legal access to some form of marijuana products with high THC levels. Looking to the future, many new cannabis markets are expected to open up in the next few years:
The earliest states expected to open up next for recreational cannabis sales are Minnesota and Oklahoma. There is always a lag between legalization and actual sales, wherein local regulatory bodies and governments set standards. States like Kentucky, on the other hand, aren’t likely to even legalize medicinal cannabis until 2028.
It’s estimated that by 2030, there will be 69 million cannabis consumers in the country, up 33% from 2022.
Overall, the U.S. cannabis market is likely an important one to watch as legal sales hit $30 billion in 2022. By the end of the decade, that number is expected to be anywhere from $58 billion to as much as $72 billion.
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