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China to Overtake U.S. as Largest Trading Nation, HSBC Says

China will overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest trading nation by 2016, as intra-Asian commerce and rising demand from emerging markets boost shipments, according to HSBC Holdings Plc.

Trade in China and the Asia-Pacific region will grow at an annualized pace almost twice as fast as the world average over the next five years, driven by shipments within the region and expanded ties with Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, HSBC said in a global trade report issued today.

Demand from traditional consumer markets in the West is expected to slow as the evolving European debt crisis threatens the global outlook. China, the world’s second-biggest economy, will stimulate growth with fiscal stimulus and an acceleration in infrastructure projects, raising its imports of commodities from Latin America and the Middle East, HSBC said.

“The world’s largest businesses are continuing to broaden their supply chains across Asia-Pacific” that will boost trade within the region, Simon Constantinides, HSBC’s regional head of global trade, Asia-Pacific, said in an interview in Hong Kong. “As China expands its global reach, especially into South America and Africa, its substantial energy demand and higher manufacturing output will drive strong imports and exports within these sectors.”

Largest Exporter

HSBC estimates the value of China’s trade will rise at an annualized rate of 6.6 percent over the next five years, compared with 6.5 percent gains for Asia and 3.8 percent for the world, according to today’s reports.

“The developed markets will slow,” Constantinides said. “Everybody is going to trade with China.”

China’s share of global imports and exports will increase to 12.3 percent in 2026 from 9.8 percent last year, the bank estimates. The nation overtook Germany as the world’s largest exporter in 2009.

Vietnam and Bangladesh will become the region’s top emerging trade partners over the next five years for ready-made garments, textiles and rice, while Peru, Norway and Brazil will become major partners for trade in iron ore, soya and oil, HSBC said.

Printing and machinery will become the fastest emerging industry in the Asia-Pacific as global supply chains locate in the region, evidence of a shift toward higher value production, HSBC said in its report.

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