China seizes biggest share of global exports in almost 50 years
Chinese exporters have found a silver lining in weak global demand by seizing market share from their competitors – good news for China but an expansion that is aggravating trade tensions.
China’s proportion of global exports rose to 13.8 percent last year from 12.3 percent in 2014, data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment shows, the highest share any country has enjoyed since the United States in 1968.
The success belies widespread predictions rising costs for Chinese labour and a currency that has increased nearly 20 percent against the dollar in the last decade would cause China to lose market share to cheaper competitors.
Instead, China’s manufacturing infrastructure built during the country’s industrial rise of recent decades is keeping exports humming and providing the basis for firms to produce higher-value products.
“China cannot be replaced,” said Fredrik Guitman, formerly China general manager for a Danish maker of silver products, adding that reliable delivery times were more important than price. “If they say 45 days, it will be 45 days.”
Still, even as Chinese firms compete in more sophisticated product lines, they are unloading overstocked inventory from entrenched industrial overcapacity in sectors like steel, an irritant in global trading relationships. The United States and seven other countries this week called for urgent action to address a steel supply glut that many blame on China. Read more