Germany, Japan and China are the countries in the world which export much more than they import (in monetary terms) and they are receiving lots of criticism for it. China, which exports electronics and metals but also cheap consumer goods, is embroiled in a trade war over its trade imbalance which is especially pronounced in its relationship with the United States, the biggest net importer in the world by a large margin.
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Germany, a big exporter of machinery and cars, is also earning much more through exports than it spends on imports, much to the disdain of the European Union, which in the past has put the country on notice about its trade surplus and demanded investments, wage hikes and lower taxes. This is supposed to bolster demand at home and give trade partners with a weaker performance the chance to export to Germany and improve their own economy, according to the EU. Germany has so far preferred to mostly ignore the warnings.
Yet, having a big trade deficit can be just as damaging as having a massive trade surplus. In the case of the U.S., which is buying from China to a large extent, the trade deficit has caused U.S. debt to China to rise, making the U.S. wary of a dependency. Because Chinese currency is not free from government interference, many also think China has an unfair advantage when it comes to how competitive its exports are.
This chart shows countries with a trade deficit or a trade surplus in 2019.
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