On Monday, the EU statistics agency Eurostat stated that China outstrips the United States in 2020 as the European Union’s largest trade partner. 

Besides that, Britain, which is no longer European Union’s member, was the bloc’s third-largest trade partner, following China and the US, the agency reported. China’s dominance began after struggling in the first quarter from the coronavirus pandemic but improved rapidly with consumption still reaching its pace at the end of 2020 a year ago. 

This has helped boost European sales revenue, particularly in the automotive and luxury goods industries, whereas China’s exports to Europe have gained from the high demand for medical devices and electronics. The ousting of the US came as the EU and China are attempting to amend a long-negotiated investment agreement that will give greater market access to European companies to the Chinese markets.  

In 2020, Eurostat said the amount of trade with China hit EUR 586 billion ($711 billion), relative to EUR 555 billion ($673 billion) for the US. According to the agency, EU exports grew by 2.2% to EUR 202.5 billion, whereas imports from the People’s Republic of China rose by 5.6% to EUR 383.5 billion during the same period. In the same period, EU exports to the US decreased by 13.2% and imports by 8.2%. 

In addition to the Covid-19 issue, a number of counter rivalries have disrupted transatlantic trade, resulting in tariffs on steel and goods such as French champagne or Harley-Davidson motorcycles. In 2020, the year Britain formally entered the eurozone, Eurostat claimed that the trade with the United Kingdom collapsed, although it was in a transitional period to mitigate the impact of Brexit until Dec 31. EU exports to the United Kingdom declined by 13.2% while imports through the channel fell by 13.9%, Eurostat reported. 

By Sumbul Jawad

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