The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating the inexorable shift to the East of the world order. Weighed down by confinements and the endless adoption of restrictions for contain the health crisis, the global economy is increasingly dependent on Asia, which is now reaping the fruits of its exemplary management of Covid-19. This is especially the case in China, which has marked two important milestones in recent days: last week, Eurostat confirmed that, for the first time in history, in 2020 the Asian giant replaced the United States as the Union’s main trade partner for goods Europe -586,000 million euros compared to 555,000 million-, and today exactly the same has happened with India.
In the Old Continent, this situation is the result of a drastic 10% drop in foreign trade with the American superpower – 8.2% less in exports and 13.2% in imports – added to the experienced growth in relations with China – 2.2% more in exports and 5.6% in imports. It is a situation that favors the Chinese surplus – it grew by 9.9% with the EU – and that shows its preponderance as the main manufacturing base in the world.
Something similar happened last year in India. Bilateral trade reached $ 77.7 billion, while that shared by the Hindu-majority country and the United States stood at $ 75.9 billion, according to provisional data provided by the Indian Ministry of Commerce. It is an important leap because, although they are neighboring powers, they have always maintained strained relationships and few ties of interdependence. Now, however, Delhi imports goods worth 58.7 billion dollars from the communist country, more than the sum of the next two trading partners, the United States and the United Arab Emirates. Of course, the trade balance is very heeled towards China, because India only sold products worth 19,000 million.
Five times more
In any case, China still has a long way to go to become the first dry trading partner of the European Union, because it has only hung the gold medal in relation to material goods, not with the services. And, as ‘Politico’ collects, in the first nine months of 2020 their trade between the EU and the United States was 296.3 billion euros, five times more than with China. To a large extent, this is due to less social and business integration between the two territories, and to barriers such as language or censorship that hinder this part of the trade.
Things, however, could change slightly if the Investment Agreement signed by Beijing and Brussels last December is ratified. In addition, the increase in value of Chinese exports, a reflection of the industrial transformation promoted by the Communist Party to climb rungs on the value scale.
Despite this, some analysts do not foresee that the close socio-economic relationship between the EU and the United States will break down. ‘The growth of trade with China reflects more an increase in EU imports than an increase in European exports as consequence of the Chinese recovery. Thus, the structure of trade relations remains more or less the same, and the importance of the United States as a partner has not significantly eroded, “analyzed Nick Marro, head of Global Trade at the Economist Intelligence Unit, in statements to the South China Morning Post.