Volume 43, Number 168,
January-March 2012
Threats and Opportunities for Brazil's Trade
with China: Lessons for Brazil
Fernando Augusto Mansor de Mattos and Marcelo Dias Carcanholo

According to recent eclac data (2010: 09), China has overtaken Germany in the global export ranking in the last decade and has become the leading global exporter of goods. In 2009 China's share of global exports was 10% or 12.46 trillion dollars. Germany's share was 9% and the United States 8%. The proportions were very different in the year 2000 (4%, 9% and 12% respectively, a total of 6.38 trillion dollars). This means that China's place in international trade increased six percentage points, doubling in just nine years.12 This momentum can be better understood if examined in relation to structural changes to exports by product category.

The data in Table 1 clearly shows the percentage fall of primary commodities in relation to total exports. These commodities represented 20.15% in 1990, reducing by 9% in 1995, 6.2% in 2000 and dropping to 2.3% and 2.5% in 2008 and 2009. Medium and high-tech manufacturing exports, which represented 26.18% of total exports in 1990, rose to 31.8% in 1995, 42% in 2000, reaching 56% in 2007/2008 and rising to 58% in 2009. Over the course of the period, the concentration of medium and high-tech manufacturing products is clearly in detriment to primary commodities, taking into account that this process occurs at the same time as a trend towards strong growth in the country's exports as a whole.

There were also significant changes to the structure of Chinese imports, as can be seen in Table 2, which shows growth for primary commodities (10.8% of the total in 1990 and 22% in 2009) and for high-tech manufactured goods (13.4% in 1990 and 32% in 2009). This increase reveals a change in China's productive sector during the period towards more complex industrial structure13 (Medeiros, 2006).

11 The data presented in Tables 1 and 2 was obtained from the eclac website (http://www.eclac.org/comercio/serieCP/eclactrade/serie_101_comercio_total_tiempo_content.html). For data on China see series 101. Information is available for up until the year 2009 (accessed 08/18/2011).

12 In absolute terms, the value of Chinese exports, which in 1990 represented 62 million dollars, rose from 149 billion dollars in 1995 to 249 billion dollars in 2000. This century, the export growth rate rises, representing a total of 1.22 trillion dollars in 2007 and 1.43 trillion dollars the following year. The drop to 1.201 trillion dollars in 2009 is the result of poor outlook for the global economy after the 2007-2008 crisis. The same pattern can be seen for imports. From a total of 53 billion dollars in 1990, these rise to 132 billion dollars in 1995, 225 billion dollars in 2000, rising to 956 billion dollars in 2007, and 1.132 trillion dollars the following year. The drop to 1.005 trillion dollars the following year can also be explained by the global economic crisis.

13 As well as revealing the installation of a complex industrial landscape, the performance of China's imports is also evidence of the increase in industrial activity in general, which demands increasing quantities of primary materials (from commodities to natural resource based manufactured goods.) In addition, the nature and magnitude of the expansion of Chinese imports has resulted in urban transformation for Chinese society (Oliviera, 2005; Madeiros, 2006). This can be seen in the rise in urbanization, the growth of average income and the change in consumption patterns.

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 194 July-September 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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