Shanghai No 1 in 2020 foreign trade volume

China’s financial hub Shanghai has taken the top spot in total foreign trade volume last year, followed by Shenzhen and Beijing, according to a report released by Chinese financial news outlet Yicai.

China’s foreign trade grew by 1.9 percent year-on-year to 32.16 trillion yuan ($5 trillion) in 2020, hitting a record high, according to the General Administration of Customs. Its exports rose 4 percent year-on-year to 17.93 trillion yuan and imports went down 0.7 percent to 14.22 trillion yuan.

Last year, the foreign trade volume of a total of 16 Chinese cities surpassed 500 billion yuan, with 9 cities topping 700 billion yuan and five exceeding 1 trillion yuan, Yicai said.

Shanghai’s foreign trade increased 2.3 percent year-on-year last year, with the volume of imports and exports totaling 3.48 trillion yuan. The city’s imports rose 3.8 percent to 2.11 trillion yuan, while exports were flat at 1.37 trillion yuan.

Shenzhen’s foreign trade grew by 2.4 percent year-on-year to 3.05 trillion yuan last year, surpassing the 3 trillion yuan mark for the first time. Exports rose by 1.5 percent to 1.7 trillion yuan and imports grew by 3.6 percent to 1.35 trillion yuan.

The total foreign trade volume for Beijing and Suzhou, East China’s Jiangsu province, surpassed the 2 trillion yuan mark for both cities, at 2.32 trillion yuan and 2.22 trillion yuan respectively.

In terms of the growth rate in foreign trade, Chengdu, capital of China’s Sichuan province, took the lead in the top 10 cities. Last year, the city saw a foreign trade volume worth 715.42 billion yuan, registering a 22.4-percent growth year-on-year. Of the total volume, exports reached 410.68 billion yuan, up 23.7 percent, and imports hit around 304.74 billion yuan, up 20.7 percent.

The robust growth in exports was related to products and industrial structure, He Fengkai, deputy director of the economic operation bureau of the Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone, told Yicai. Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, electronic products experienced rising demand as working from home became a trend.

In terms of geographical distribution, except for Chengdu, the other cities ranked in the top 10 all come from eastern coastal areas, with three in the Yangtze River Delta, three in the Pearl River Delta, and two from the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

The foreign trade dependence rate – a ratio of foreign trade volume to the city’s gross domestic output – is a significant indicator reflecting how closely a regional economy is connected with the global economy.

Last year, five cities among the top 20 — Dongguan, Shenzhen, Suzhou, Xiamen and Jinhua — all saw their figures exceed 100 percent. Dongguan, a city dubbed the “world’s factory” in South China’s Guangdong province, took the top spot in the country with a foreign trade dependence rate of 137.9 percent.

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