The EU’s seasonally adjusted trade (imports + exports) with China fell from €46.5 billion in January 2020 to €43.1 billion in February 2020. In March 2020, EU’s trade with China fell further to €41.9 billion, while in April 2020 it bounced back above its January 2020 level to €49.0 billion.
This increase was mainly led by a sharp increase in imports from China (+€3.5 billion and +€6.8 billion compared with January and March 2020 respectively), and was largely due to an increase in imports of specific made-up textile articles such as textile face masks, surgical masks disposable face masks and single use drapes.
Trends in EU’s trade with its 5 main trade partners vary
In April 2020, decreasing levels of trade were observed for imports from all 5 main trade partners of the EU, with the exception of China (+12% compared with January 2020).
The EU’s exports to its 5 main trade partners also fell over this period, with the highest decrease in exports recorded with the United Kingdom (-40%), while the smallest decrease was recorded with China (-6%).
Impact on the most traded goods between the EU and China
Looking at the goods most traded between the EU and China, despite the general downturn, exports of medicaments (+€256 million, +41%), electronic tubes, valves and related articles (+€166 million, +25%) and electric power machinery and parts (+€60 million, +56%) all rose steeply in April 2020 compared with April 2019.
The largest decreases in exports in absolute terms were observed for motor cars and motor vehicles (-€1 285 million, -71%) as well as for aircraft and associated equipment (-€840 million, -89%).
Looking at imports of the most traded goods to the EU from China, the highest increases in April 2020 compared with the same month last year were recorded for automatic data processing machines (+€884 billion, +33%), articles of apparel of textile fabrics (+€129 billion, +36%) and electronic tubes, valves and related articles (+€92 billion, +12%).
The largest decreases in absolute terms were observed for imports of footwear (-€254 billion, -52%), telecommunications equipment (-€232 billion, -6%) and baby carriages, toys, games and sporting goods (-€225 billion, -28%).
The list of these top goods was established based on 2019 data: these goods covered 55% of total trade in goods in 2019. Twelve products belong to machinery and vehicles, seven to other manufactured products and one to chemicals. The most traded product group in 2019 at this level was telecommunications equipment.
Statistics Explained article on China-EU – international trade in goods statistics.