China’s Belt & Road Imports Growing Faster Than Exports

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Growing Opportunities To Sell To China As Domestic Consumer Base Hits 550 Million

China’s Department of Big Data Development, part of the State Information Center, has just released a report stating that China’s imports from Belt & Road Countries increased faster that of exports for the first time.

An analysis of import-export intelligence from 71 countries along the Belt & Road summarized the current trade picture and future trend projections. Due to the scale of the analysis the data mined thus far only goes back to 2017, when the value of China’s imports from Belt & Road Countries stood at US$666 billion, an increase of 20 percent year-on-year, or 39 percent of China’s total imports value at that time. In the same year, China’s exports to those countries came in at US$774.26 billion, a rise of 8.5 percent year-on-year. This means that the growth of imports outpaced exports for the first time since the Belt & Road Initiative was proposed five years ago.

China’s combined trade with those countries reached US$1.44 trillion, up 13.4 percent year-on-year, 5.9 percentage points faster than China’s overall trade growth.

China’s trade with Central Asia countries grew at the fastest rate, followed by Eastern Europe. Countries including the Republic of Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, India and Russia rank among China’s top 10 trading partners along the routes, contributing nearly 70 percent of China’s trade with Belt & Road Countries.

China mainly sells mechanical and electrical products to Belt & Road Countries, and imports mechanical and electrical products as well as fossil fuel from them, the report said. Chinese private companies conduct the largest amount of trade, followed by foreign-invested companies and State-owned firms.

Yu Shiyang, Director of the Department of Big Data Development said that amid rising protectionism by some countries, China’s trade with Belt & Road countries had risen at a brisk pace, showing the initiative was being implemented well, featuring free trade flow.

“The data shows what we have long been saying” says Chris Devonshire-Ellis of Dezan Shira & Associates, “The Belt & Road offers opportunities to sell to China and this far outweighs the risks of supporting the BRI. China’s middle class is set to rise to 550 million by 2023 and is growing at over 10% per annum. The strategic thought onus about the BRI should be the export trade benefits it provides for global manufacturers.”

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