The Sino-German relationships – Part 1: Trade relationship

The trade volume between Germany and China has sharply risen since the beginning of the millenium and reached about 140 billion Euro in 2013 (2003: 44 billion Euro). After the economic and financial crisis arround 2007 to 2009, the trade relationship has become relatively balanced again, with a remaining, “small” trade surplus for China (+7.6 billion Euro in 2013 to +26.5 in 2007). The relationship between the two countries has also become equal important for one another: China has become one of the top 5 export countries for Germany and vice versa.

The most important trading goods between Germany and China are machines, mechanical devices, electronical devices, automobiles and photographical products, providing about 60% of the total trade volume between China and Germany. Other important trading goods for the two countries are chemical products, especially pharmaceutical products for Germany and organical chemicals for China, composing about 5% of the total trade volume. The same applies to steel, iron and other metals and their related products. One of the fastest growing, important product categories for both countries is plastic and related products. Other industries have minor importance for both countries or are only relevant for one country, like e.g. the textile export for China as well as the milk import for Germany.

With regard to the Chinese government’s 5 year plan and national trends, there are industries with high potential for trading relations between China and Germany:

  • New energy and sustainability sector,
  • Food and beverages sector (Germany has a good reputation for its high food safety standards)
  • Luxury products (upcoming middle class).
  • Medical industry (German SME are leading in this field).


Sources and the full report is available on request (mail to: