China remained the world's largest exporter in 2016, shipping 13.84 trillion yuan ($2.1 trillion) worth of goods and accounting for 13.2 percent of worldwide exports, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.
This is the eighth straight year that China held the top spot, ministry spokesman Sun Jiwen said.
Last year, the value of imports reached 10.49 trillion yuan and overall trade volume for 2016 reached 24.33 trillion yuan.
China's foreign trade volume during the first quarter of 2017 also experienced strong growth to 6.2 trillion yuan, an increase of 21.8 percent year-on-year, according the General Administration of Customs. Exports increased by 14.8 percent to 3.33 trillion yuan and imports grew by 31.1 percent to 2.87 trillion yuan.
Trade with the US and economies related to the Belt and Road Initiative registered solid growth, Customs spokesman Huang Songping said on Thursday.
From January to March, China's first-quarter trade volume with Russia increased by 37 percent, Pakistan by 18.7 percent, Poland by 19 percent, Kazakhstan by 69.3 percent and India by 27.7 percent.
Over the same period, trade with the EU rose by 16.9 percent and that with the US and ASEAN countries by 21.3 percent and 25 percent, respectively, together accounting for 41.4 percent of China's total import and export value, he said.
China's foreign trade remains sound and steady, Huang said. Trade has seen through positive changes since June of last year.
While many complicated, unstable and uncertain factors affect foreign trade, positive conditions continue, so the economic prospects remained sound, according to Customs.
Experts said China's overseas shipment increases and strong trading during the first quarter were the result of it's efforts to upgrade manufacturing, supply-side reforms and intensified research and development efforts.
"A series of positive changes have taken place in China's foreign trade," said Sang Baichuan, director of the Institute of International Business at the University of International Business and Economics.
"In the past, China's exports were mostly low-end, labor-intensive products, while now the proportion of large-sized complete sets of equipment, high-tech products and self-owned brands are climbing."
Sang said the structure of Chinese-made commodities has been optimized, and China is transforming from just earning commissions to profiting from processing and assembling procedures and independent marketing.
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