Europe's imports from China have grown by around 27% per year for the last five years. In 2006, the EU imported €191 billion worth of goods from China. China is Europe's biggest source of manufactured imports. Two decades ago China and Europe traded almost nothing. At the same time, China is Europe's fastest growing export market. Europe exported €63 billion worth of goods to China in 2006. Exports from the EU to China grew by 100% between 2002 and 2006. Although a large consumer market is developing in China, the EU still exports more to the 7.5 million people who live in Switzerland that the 1.3 billion people who live in China.
Europe's trade deficit with China is growing at €17 million every hour. In 2006 it was €131 billion euros. In 2007 it is likely to be about €170 billion euros. The trade deficit is focussed in office and telecom equipment, textiles and light manufacturing. Although imports from China have surged, Asia's share of total EU imports has increased only very moderately by 10% over the last decade as there has been a shift within the economies of Asia to focus production in China. But the deficit still reflects the considerable problems EU businesses have accessing the Chinese market.