GENEVA, Switzerland, Apr 27 (Reuters) – China’s share of global exports has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic to approach 15%, but its dominance could soon peak as domestic demand grows and the cost of labor is rising, the UNCCD, a UN agency, said on Tuesday.
In 2020, China had the largest share of world exports of goods, with 14.7% of the total, compared to 13.2% in 2019, according to data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The United States came in second place, with 8.1%, and Germany in third, with 7.8%.
Early data this year suggests a continuation of the trend, with Chinese exports rising nearly 50% year-on-year to $ 710 billion in the first quarter, according to UNCTAD data.
“Overall, China is likely to remain the world’s top exporter in the near future,” the UNCCD commentary noted. “However, its export dominance in the world economy may be approaching its maximum.”
Among the reasons that explain this situation are its increasing dependence on domestic demand, and not on external demand, the increase in labor costs and increasing automation, which could stimulate the relocation of production to developed countries.
He also said that geopolitical tensions and the lack of global action to address social and environmental concerns could lead to a “de-globalization process” that would have stronger-than-normal implications for major exporters such as China.
One of the main factors that helped Beijing emerge as an export powerhouse was its accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001, according to the UNCTAD. At that time, China’s export share was less than 5% of the total.
Its trade rival, the United States, has criticized China for claiming concessions as a developing country under WTO rules, given its rapid economic growth.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Edited in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)