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Top 10 China Imports

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China’s Top 10 Imports

The People’s Republic of China imported US$2.069 trillion worth of goods from around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 23.2% increase since 2015 but a -3.1% downtick from 2019 to 2020.

Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Chinese yuan depreciated by -10.9% against the US dollar since 2015 and declined by -4.4% from 2018 to 2019. The weaker Chinese yuan makes China’s imports paid for in stronger US dollars in 2019 relatively more expensive when converted starting from Chinese yuans.

From a continental perspective, 55.4% of China’s total imports by value in 2019 were purchased from fellow Asian countries. European trade partners accounted for 18.1% of imported goods bought by China. Smaller percentage of overall Chinese imports came from suppliers in North America (8%), Latin America (7.2%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Australia and other Oceanian sources (6.6%) and Africa (4.6%).

Given China’s population of 1.4 billion people, its total $2.069 trillion in 2019 imports translates to roughly $1,500 in yearly product demand from every person in the Asian behemoth.

The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in China’s import purchases during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into China.

  1.     Electrical machinery, equipment: US$496.8 billion (24% of total imports)
  2.     Mineral fuels including oil: $343.6 billion (16.6%)
  3.     Machinery including computers: $190.3 billion (9.2%)
  4.     Ores, slag, ash: $163.6 billion (7.9%)
  5.     Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $98.7 billion (4.8%)
  6.     Vehicles: $75.1 billion (3.6%)
  7.     Plastics, plastic articles: $71.6 billion (3.5%)
  8.     Gems, precious metals: $60.5 billion (2.9%)
  9.     Organic chemicals: $57.8 billion (2.8%)
  10.     Copper: $40.8 billion (2%)

China’s top 10 imports account for over three-quarters (77.3%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.

Imported ores, slag and ash posted the sole increase in cost among China’s top 10 import categories, up 20.4% from 2019 to 2020.

Leading the decliners among China’s top import categories were copper (down -14.4%) and organic chemicals (down -14.2%) year over year.

Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more detailed view of imported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the product category tabs plus the section Searchable List of China’s Most Valuable Import Products further down near the bottom of this article or under the adjacent product folder tabs.

Top 10 Chinese Import Products

1Integrated circuits/microassemblies$312.7 billion+19.7%
2Crude oil$239.2 billion+46%
3Iron ores, concentrates$75 billion-1.9%
4Petroleum gases$50 billion+51.6%
5Cars$49.6 billion-0.7%
6Phone system devices including smartphones$48.9 billion+2.3%
7Gold (unwrought)$45.8 billion-10.9%
8Soya beans$38.1 billion-3.9%
9Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools$33.8 billion-9.4%
10Copper ores, concentrates$32.7 billion+21.7%


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