BEIJING - Already the biggest auto market and steel maker, China edged past Germany in 2009 to become the top exporter, yet another sign of its rapid rise and the spread of economic power from West to East.
Total 2009 exports were more than $1.2 trillion, China’s customs agency said yesterday. That was ahead of the $1.17 trillion forecast for Germany by its foreign trade organization, BGA.
China’s new status highlights its growing presence as an industrial power, a major buyer of oil, iron ore, and other commodities, and, increasingly, as an investor and key voice in managing the global economy. Its ability to unseat Germany reflects the ability of agile, low-cost Chinese manufacturers to keep selling abroad even as other exporters have been hammered by a slump in global demand.
China overtook Germany in 2007 as the third-largest economy and is expected to unseat Japan as number two, behind the United States, as early as this year. The global crisis speeded China’s rise up the ranks as a $586 billion government stimulus program kept its economy and consumption growing as the United States and others struggled with recession.