The world took notice in 2009 when China officially became the biggest exporter. But Don Brasher, CEO of Global Trade Information Services (GTIS), thinks that what is about to happen next is even bigger news.

“Probably by the end of 2011 and certainly in early 2012, China will become the world’s biggest importer,” he says. “And, if China is the biggest importer, how much longer will it be before the price of oil and other commodities are set in Renminbi, not US dollars?”

Just-released data compiled by GTIS clearly shows China’s imports rising vertically, with the US, Japan and the major European economies following a flattened trend. “China is the engine of global markets as an importer and no longer as an exporter alone,” Brasher says.

Although GTIS data shows that China already leads imports in a number of commodities, he believes that China’s current growth trends are unsustainable. “It is unrealistic to think that China can continue to grow this fast,” he says. So, China’s current imports of coal and iron ore, for example, are unlikely to continue at current levels. 

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