Exports to China – not so important for world economy?

Here is another graphic from The Economist which shows the value of exports of individual economies to China.

% of exports to China – 2009
Australia – 21.8%
Japan – 18.9%
Brazil – 12.5%
South Africa – 10.3%

Thus exports to China are only 3.4% of GDP in Australia, 2.2% in Japan, 2% in South Africa and 1.2% in Brazil (see below). Export earnings can, of course, have a ripple effect throughout an economy but the multiplier effect is rarely higher than 1.5 or 2 – this means that they hardly ever double the contribution to GDP.

Recently, the Bank Credit Analyst, an independent research firm, asked what would happen if China suffered a “hard landing”. Its answer to this “apocalyptic” question was quite “benign”. As it pointed out, Japan at the start of the 1990s accounted for a bigger share of GDP than China does today. Its growth slowed from about 5% to 1% in the first half of the 1990s without any discernible effect on global trends.

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