World’s leading trader

China became the biggest trader of goods in the world for the first time last year, overtaking the U.S.

According to figures released by Beijing on Friday, the value of China’s imports and exports in 2013 reached $4.16 trillion. This will almost certainly surpass the American figure, which won’t be released until February — but seeing as U.S. goods traded from January to November 2013 amounted to $3.57 trillion, there is little likelihood it will be higher than China’s.

Historians quibble over whether Qing dynasty China (1644-1912) might have been the world’s leading trader too — meaning that China could be enjoying this status for the second not first time — but regardless, the news is hailed as a great success by Beijing.

“This is a landmark milestone for our nation’s foreign trade development,” said Zheng Yuesheng, chief statistician of the Customs Administration.

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