Exporting to China - Market Overview China - Market Overview
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Amidst slowing Chinese growth, growing concern about national security implications of technology supply chains, and U.S. and Chinese retaliatory tariffs, many American companies are increasingly pessimistic about their prospects in the Chinese market. Still, China accounted for more than a quarter of global GDP growth in 2018, and, despite a falling growth rate, is on track to account for more than a quarter of global GDP growth in 2019 – more than the EU, Japan, India, Brazil, and Mexico combined. Chinese consumers, especially in smaller Chinese cities, have a growing demand for high quality U.S. products.
China’s growth dipped down to 6.6% in 2018, its slowest in nearly 30 years, and most analysts expect this rate to slide again in 2019. Many economists remain concerned about China’s medium-term growth prospects due to the slow pace of economic reforms, failure to bring debt levels under control, and an uncertain external environment. Maintaining politically acceptable economic growth without further exacerbating the buildup in debt will be a major challenge for the Chinese leadership.
U.S. exports to China in 2018 were $120.34 billion, down from $129.89 billion in 2017. That downward trend continues as of the writing of this report – U.S. exports of China were down 20% YoY through April of 2019. U.S. exports of services to China were $58.9 billion in 2018.
While China’s leadership has, in response to increasing global concerns about Chinese economic policy, repeated long-standing commitments to gradually open China’s market further to foreign participants and remove barriers to increased imports, tangible progress has been marginal at best. Indeed, foreign companies report growing concerns about the business climate in China. China continues to rely upon industrial policy tools – including subsidies, market access restrictions, pressures to transfer technology, and other support for domestic competitors – to drive the economy. These policy tools undermine the ability of foreign firms to operate on a level playing field in the Chinese market. Furthermore, the Chinese Communist Party’s control over every economic actor in the market has increased. The United States continues to vigorously advocate for a more balanced, reciprocal, and fair bilateral economic relationship. Despite these serious challenges, market potential does exist for foreign companies, particularly those operating in industries such as energy efficiency, clean technology, and healthcare, where critical Chinese needs provide opportunities for mutual benefit.