US overtakes Europe to become biggest importer of Chinese goods

US overtakes Europe to become biggest importer of Chinese goods

BEIJING - Agence France-Presse
US overtakes Europe to become biggest importer of Chinese goods

US President Barack Obama (L) looks at Chinese PM Wen Jiabao at the East Asia Summit plenary session yesterday. EPA photo

China said yesterday that the United States has overtaken the European Union as its biggest export market, as the continent’s debt crisis has sent demand slumping.

“The biggest is the US and the EU is second,” Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang told reporters at a regular briefing, without saying when the reversal occurred. “The EU used to be the biggest,” he added.

Chinese customs figures for the first 10 months of this year showed that China’s exports to the United States totalled $289.3 billion, while shipments to the EU came to $276.8 billion.

Weak demand from both Europe and the US has been a big factor as China’s economic growth has slowed over the past seven quarters to the end of September.

Economic growth in the United States remains weak but is expanding, while the eurozone’s debilitating debt crisis has dragged it back into recession.

 Shen noted that China will probably miss its full year target of 10 percent foreign trade growth this year due to sluggish overseas demand, particularly in Europe and Japan.

“The international economic situation this year has been severe and complicated. There have been many uncertainties, with slack foreign demand being the most severe one,” he said.

“It will be indeed very difficult to achieve this year’s 10-percent target for trade growth,” he said, yet added it was premature to conclude what the full year increase would turn out to be.”

Shen also said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations had moved past Japan as China’s third-biggest export market.

Japan, which is in the midst of a diplomatic row with China that has hit trade between the two nations, slipped to fourth place.

Shen offered no explanation for China’s changing trade patterns with ASEAN and Japan.

China shipped $125.3 billion in goods to Japan in the first 10 months of the year, compared with $163.9 billion dollars to the 10 ASEAN countries, according to customs figures.


PHNOM PENH – The Associated Press

President Barack Obama said the U.S.-China relationship is “cooperative and constructive” and that it’s important that the two nations set “clear rules of the road” for trade and investment.

Obama conveyed this message yesterday to China’s outgoing premier, Wen Jiabao (wihn jah-bow), before the two met alone on the sidelines of a summit of Asian countries taking place in Cambodia.

Wen congratulated Obama on his re-election on behalf of China’s outgoing and incoming leadership. The meeting most likely was Obama’s last with Wen. He and Chinese President Hu Jintao are stepping down in China’s first leadership transition in a decade.

Despite tensions between the two economic powerhouses, Hu said he and Obama share the view that the U.S.-China relationship is one of the most important in the world.