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Year-ender: foreign trade | Updated: 2013-02-05 14:01

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China's positive economic influence has been surging in surrounding countries over the past five years, as the nation overtook the United States to become the largest trading partner of 124 economies by 2011. The number was only 70 in 2006.

The US may not be as thrilled. The country has seen a sharp decrease in trading partners during the same period, from 127 to 76.

China now boasts the world's biggest exporter and second-largest importer, with its foreign trade growing 6.2 percent year-on-year to hit $3.867 trillion in 2012.

Among that, exports to the EU, China's biggest trading partner, reached $333.99 billion, down 6.2 percent from a year earlier, while imports from the bloc edged up 0.4 percent to $212.05 billion.

Trade with the United States, which overtook Europe to be the biggest buyer of China's exports, expanded 8.5 percent from one year earlier to $484.68 billion, with a trade surplus of $218.92 billion, up 8.2 percent year-on-year.

Exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations rose 20.1 percent to $204.27 billion, the fastest growth amid China's top 10 trade partners. The growth has turned China’s trade deficit of $22.84 billion last year to a trade surplus of $8.45 billion in 2012 with the bloc.

Japan, however, dropped to become China's fourth largest trade partner in 2012 amid tensions over the Diaoyu Islands. The country's trade value with China slipped to $329.46 billion, down 3.9 percent from a year earlier.

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