Top 10 Imports from China

Top 10 Imports from China and finding niche products in China.

Last week we had Dragon boat festival here in China, I didn't see a single boat in Shanghai. There was enough rain water for boating in most places - so let's hope they were there somewhere. This week has seen the humidity set in - "real" summer has arrived. Anyway enough about the weather! Today we are looking at the following:

- The most popular products being exported from China.

- Why being popular is not always cool? 

- Research tips on finding your niche product?

- Tips on finding niche products in China.

1. Most popular products being exported from China

China is still the world's workshop and despite some shrinkage in the volume of exports it is still the default go to when sourcing or outsourcing manufacturing. Here is the top 10 list of product categories by USD value.

1. Electronic equipment: US$600.3 billion (26.3% of total exports)

2. Machines, engines, pumps: $364.5 billion (16%)

3. Furniture, lighting, signs: $98.7 billion (4.3%)

4. Knit or crochet clothing: $83.8 billion (3.7%)

5. Clothing (not knit or crochet): $78.5 billion (3.4%)

6. Medical, technical equipment: $73.8 billion (3.2%)

7. Plastics: $65.8 billion (2.9%)

8. Vehicles: $62.7 billion (2.7%)

9. Iron or steel products: $60.6 billion (2.7%)

10. Footwear: $53.6 billion (2.3%)

These are quite meaty areas so the good people at World's Top Exports went one better and drilled into them a bit more.

1. Phone system devices: US$213.2 billion (HTS code 8517)

2. Computers, optical readers: $137.3 billion (8471)

3. Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $70.1 billion (8542)

4. Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs: $35.8 billion (9405)

5. Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools: $34.0 billion (9013)

6. Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $33.6 billion (8541)

7. Miscellaneous furniture: $29.2 billion (9403)

8. Computer parts, accessories: $28.9 billion (8473)

9. Automobile parts/accessories: $28.3 billion (8708)

10. Cases, handbags, wallets: $28.3 billion (4202)

11. TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $28.2 billion (8528)

12. Electrical converters/power units: $26.6 billion (8504)

13. Women's clothing (not knit or crochet): $25.9 billion (6204)

14. Footwear (rubber or plastic): $24.6 billion (6402)

15. Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs): $23.7 billion (9401)

16. Insulated wire/cable: $21.4 billion (8544)

17. Printing machinery: $21.1 billion (8443)

18. Cruise/cargo ships, barges: $20.4 billion (8901)

19. Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet): $19.7 billion (6110)

20. Women's clothing (knit or crochet): $19.4 billion (6104)

2. Why being popular is not always cool?

This is about understanding whether or not you can have any slice in the massively popular product genres in the lists above or have the big boys got them all sewn up? For the most part they will have them pretty locked down. That is, they have the best suppliers, the best prices and can budget for marketing in a way you can't. That does sound pretty grim when I put it like that but there is always a way even within these categories there are points of differentiation you can make on existing product types or look to simply brand something better than it has been done thus far. I hear you, easier said that done but actually if you focus and drill into products 1 at a time and build a small range it is highly achievable. That's right there is some good old fashioned hard work involved.

The problem for SME's and online sellers is one both should relate too. Both need to find areas to be competitive and avoid getting into battles they cannot win.

To get started first look at what exactly the big boys sell in a category of interest, genuine interest mind you - please don't do the "yeeeeah that might sell well" and get tunnel vision on it being the answer. Research is very important so check your perceived completion, where you might want to fit in the market. Is that a nice place? So in my view going after the most popular products per the lists above is very difficult, not cool and if... 

- You have not established a small or medium sized business in the area already.

- You are intending to compete just because big companies are selling well - you will need more than just a hot market.

Note: if you have a business already in product X and are interested in buying from China direct. 

Start thinking about....

Your brand

Your product

Your marketing

Your capital or lack of

Your contacts


Todd Clarke

Goods from China are a good choice for business, both for a beginner businessman and an experienced businessman. Here the most important thing is to find a good producer and a good supplier. If you choose a bad producer, then there is the risk of not making a profit, if you choose a bad supplier, then the order will go to you for a very long period of time or does not come to you at all. This happened to me already. Now I have several proven manufacturers and suppliers. I work with them.

Kevin Jonson

My worry here is that imports of clothing/textiles from China is high. They are known for producing clothes with toxic chemicals.

Wilfred Heston

You can either import top products from China or have your proprietary product assembled/manufactured in China. Either way, it can work if you partner up with a reputable supplier/manufacturer. Oh, and this has been an edifying read. Good job!

Eugene Hugh

As an online seller, most of my items came from China mostly footwears and clothings. Research is very important, if you are planning to purchase products from China, you must find first a good supplier and a good price in order for you to gain more profit.

Tom Esthber

Don't forget about pens! China has some very good looking fountain pens that they export to different places.

Eugene Jomo

Been thinking of what to add to my business. I mainly deal with clothes and the popular exports I see on the post, I guess I will have to add electronics in the sense of phones and its accessories. I know I need more research on the best suppliers out there as I know it can be challenging for small businesses like mine. Any insights you can throw my way?

Al beneth

Well-written and informative post you got here. You're so right as China has vast different products available, from tech to garments, among top and fame countries in the world.

Faith Marfil

Not surprised that Electronic hardware tops the list. Almost all phones, computer, and other electronic parts came from China. They offer the best deals when it comes to electronic manufacturing, that's why a lot of electronic companies choose to operate in China.

Nnaemeka Odimegwu

From your list, I can say that the top ten in my country, Nigeria, of importing from China has clothing at the head of the list and plastics comes next. Your instruction not to look at what the big companies are doing when choosing what to import is sound. We always emphasize knowing what your niche needs and making sure you have reliable suppliers.

Scott Summers

Judging from this, it is safe to assume that this is not for me. I mean the best overseas package I get are just a few goods not as big as these. Good info though.

Mia Batoy

As always, another great read.I'm a fan of this blog because of the info you guys have been providing.It's very helpful, especially I'm learning a lot about China.

felix munyao

i love china products because they just have everything and are easily available. if you get a good producer for sure you will be able to get a good profit from the sale of the products. Thanks China

Mesh Kim

Good to know about the weather in China. Anyway as you've started, China has become a global workshop of manufactured goods. Thank you for giving this in-depth analysis of China's top 10 exports. I'm always curious to know what's happening in the world business market and stay abreast. This article was really helpful. Thanks again.

April Case

There is no wonder why China has ultimately become the world's go to workplace--good quality of products at a very competitive price. For any small or start-up business, China offers a haven of opportunities to allow them to take off. It only takes one or two great producers of a product in mind and boom! You're on your way to taking off. Good read, makes a lot of sense.

Joseph richards

that is alot of imports. especially electronics. im also someone who gets computers and phones tho (obviously) so i hope they keep up the hard work and progression.

Leave your comment