Strategy and due diligence: your most powerful tools for dealing with the world’s new leader in goods trading

China has overtaken the United States to become the world’s leading trader of goods for 2013.

Increasing trade with the rest of the Asian region as well as the Middle East saw the total of Chinese imports and exports increase by 7.6 per cent from the previous year, to a total of $4.16 trillion.

The US, meanwhile, which only announces its full-year figures next month, saw its total trade in goods amount to $3.57 trillion in the 11 months from January to November 2013, making it virtually certain that China has overtaken it as the world’s largest goods trading nation.

Breaking down the figures, Chinese exports in 2013 accounted for $2.21 trillion, up 7.9 per cent from the previous year, while imports reached $1.95 trillion, up 7.3 per cent from 2012.

An extraordinary surge
China’s dominance has transpired over a very short period. According to the Financial Times, Chinese trade has approximately doubled every four years over the past three decades.

China also now accounts for more than 10 per cent of total worldwide trade in goods. By contrast, in 2000 it accounted for just three per cent.

What it means for the rest of us
For exporters outside of China, the attractiveness of the Chinese consumer market is becoming more and more obvious. Although China’s trade surplus widened from last year, trade imbalances will most probably correct themselves and domestic demand for foreign goods looks to continue to rise.

For companies looking into China from the outside, the prospect of exporting for the Chinese market or setting up shop in the country (something we at Today Translations have long advocated) is as prosperous as ever.

However, the latest Chinese export data clearly signifies that the number of Chinese organisations exporting is on the rise as well. The more prudent and visionary traders in the West will be capitalising on these great opportunities by building strong relationships with their prospective trade partners in the Orient.

An import strategy, therefore, is just an important as export strategy, and conducting the necessary due diligence and gathering the necessary insight into the Chinese supplier market is key to success.

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