The EU's economic relations with China are now more important than those with the US

According to information compiled by the EU's statistical authority, Eurostat, in 2020 there has been a significant shift in the distribution of economic interests between the EU, the US and China. 2020 is the first year in which the European Union's economic relations with China have become more important than its economic relations with the United States. Until 2020, total foreign trade turnover between the EU and the US was higher than between the EU and China, but now this balance has shifted in favor of China.
22.02.2021. JPJuris Paiders
©Juris Paiders

In 2019, EU Member States exported 384 billion euros worth of goods to the US and 198 billion euros to China. In 2020, EU Member States' exports of goods to the United States fell to 353 billion euros and exports to China rose to 203 billion euros. There were also significant changes in the total imports of the EU Member States. In 2019, EU countries imported goods from the US for 233 billion euros, while imports from China amounted to 363 billion euros. In 2020, EU imports from the US fell to 202 billion euros, while imports from China rose to 384 billion euros.

There are two main reasons for this shift in the external trade priorities of the EU Member States. First of all, the trade conflicts waged by former US President Donald Trump, the protectionism of the US digital giants and the blatant imposition of American interests in the large EU Member States have already resulted in a general decline in economic interests. If French producers of industrial and agricultural products (including even wine and cheese) find it difficult to enter the US market, then other geographical directions must be sought. Barriers created by the US for European companies are already reflected in the declining economic importance of the US in the EU economy.

The EU's (27) total foreign trade with the US and China (billion euros) / Neatkarīgā

2020 statistics are already calculated without the UK. However, it is well-known that the British economy is much more closely linked to the US than the EU. However, even adding UK data to the EU's total external trade figures would not change the result much.

According to the statistical summary of the UK HM Revenue and Customs, the UK foreign trade turnover with the US in 2019 was 119 billion euros. In 2020, it fell to 99 billion euros (mainly due to a significant decline in UK exports to the US). In turn, the foreign trade turnover of the UK and China in both 2019 and 2020 was in the range of 76-77 billion euros. UK's economic relations with the United States still outperform those with China, but even adding UK's foreign trade turnover to all EU member states, in 2020 the Chinese role in the EU + UK combination surpassed that of the United States.

The EU's total foreign trade turnover with China is already higher than the EU's foreign trade turnover with the US, which means that the agreement reached between the EU and China on 30 December 2020 to conclude a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment is based on common economic interests.


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