China may top US as the world’s biggest consumer by 2022

A switch to a more consumer-oriented economy may make China the world’s largest importer in five years, according to China International Capital Corporation (CICC) research.

China has topped the ratings of the world’s biggest consumers of raw materials, parts, and accessories for many years. However, regarding consumer goods, the country lags far behind the United States.

Chinese imports from Asia, Africa, Oceania, South America and Eastern Europe have already topped those by the US. According to CICC economists Liu Liu and Liang Hong, if the trend persists this year, China is likely to overtake the world's largest economy.

The surge in imports is reportedly happening because of China's gradual shift from exports to a consumer-driven society. Analysts expect China to import more consumer goods than industrial materials as the world’s most populous country is becoming the largest consumer market globally.

According to the research, Chinese consumers are becoming more and more affluent with a growing appetite for exotic products, which is driving the expansion of imports.

“This is clearly good news for the global economy as it has struggled with insufficient demand since the global financial crisis. We believe that the rise of Chinese consumers, with its significant positive spillover effect on the rest of the world, will be the most important and exciting story in the coming years,” the economists write.