Main Latin American countries exporting to China

The main Latin American countries exporting to China make the region a very strategic partner, considering, in addition, that the Chinese are the main importers.

Trade between China and Latin American countries broke an all-time record in 2023.

The exchange of goods between the region and the Asian giant exceeded US$480 billion, according to calculations prepared by BBC Mundo based on figures from the Customs Administration of the People’s Republic of China, AGA.

The trade balance was relatively balanced with a slight surplus in favor of Latin America of US$2 billion.

The new record reflects the increase in the number of major Latin American countries exporting to China and is another step in an upward trend that has been registered throughout this century.

The main Latin countries exporting to China did not generate more than 14 billion dollars until 2000, but today, they have a great significance for the market.

The Asian giant’s bilateral trade with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) was only around US$14 billion in 2000, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).


Thanks to this increase, China has become the second largest trading partner of LAC as a whole, surpassing the European Union, and the main partner of South America.

The main Latin American countries exporting to China

This intensification of trade ties with Beijing has been uneven, with the result that while some countries in the region enjoy a trade surplus, others have a deficit.

According to ECLAC, the bulk of Latin America’s exports to China are concentrated in six products (soybeans, copper and iron ores, oil, copper cathodes and beef), which together account for 72% of the total.

The region’s imports from China, on the other hand, consist mainly of manufactured products, which “has increased access for households and companies, but has also displaced regional production”, according to ECLAC.

These are the five Latin American countries that export the most to the Asian giant, according to figures from the China Customs Administration for the year 2023.

The main Latin American countries exporting to China

Most of the exports to China are raw materials for processing, and increase the Asian nation’s presence in the Latin American market.


Brazil is by far China’s largest trading partner in Latin America.

In 2023, bilateral trade totaled US$181 billion, of which US$122 billion corresponded to exports from the South American country, which obtained a trade surplus of US$63 billion.

Among the main products exported to China are soybeans (35.4%), iron (20.2%), oil (18.6%), frozen beef (8.82%) and cellulose pulp (3.36%), according to data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC).


Chile is the second Latin American country that exports the most to China and is also the second in the list of those with the largest trade surplus.

In 2023, Chile’s exports to China exceeded US$43 billion, while its surplus with China stood at US$23 billion, according to data from the Customs Administration of the People’s Republic of China.

Copper (raw and refined) is by far the main product exported by Chile to China, according to OEC data.


With exports exceeding US$25 billion in 2023, Peru ranks third on the list of Latin American countries that sell the most to China and among those with the highest trade surplus (over US$13 billion, according to AGA data).

Although Peru sells China a great diversity of minerals, including iron, zinc and precious metals, the bulk of these exports is copper, which in 2019 accounted for more than 60% of the total.


Among the main Latin American countries exporting to China, Mexico is the great exception, since its trade balance with the Asian giant is unfavorable.

Mexico’s trade relationship with China is also different because among its most sold products are manufactured goods and not only raw materials.

Thus, for example, in February 2024 the main Mexican exports to the Asian giant were integrated circuits (US$232 million), medical instruments (US$150 million), precious metals (US$91 million), copper (US$73 million) as well as engines, parts and accessories for vehicles (US$71 million), according to OEC figures.


With exports totaling more than US$7.9 billion in 2024, Ecuador is the fifth largest exporter to China in Latin America, with which it had a trade surplus of more than US$1.9 billion.

China is already the main buyer of Ecuadorian non-oil products.

Among the most exported Ecuadorian products to China are crustaceans, copper ore and precious metal ores, according to OEC data.

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