The European Union's trade deficit with China grew by over a third last year, the bloc's statistics office said on Friday, as it took in soaring imports from the Asian powerhouse.
Imports from China to the EU jumped by more than a fifth last year to 472 billion euros ($522 billion) compared to 2020, Eurostat data showed, widening the bloc's trade deficit with the country to 249 billion euros.
EU exports to China grew by a comparatively smaller 10%, a significantly faster rate than to other countries outside the bloc.
The report came as EU and Chinese leaders met for their first summit in two years, where Brussels pressed Beijing for assurances it would not supply Russia with arms nor help Moscow circumvent Western sanctions imposed over its invasion of Ukraine.
China was last year the EU's largest import partner and third-biggest export destination according to Eurostat, after the United States and Britain.
Telecoms equipment, data processors and electrical kit made up the bulk of EU imports from China, while it largely exported cars and car parts into the world's biggest automotive market.
Netherlands posted by far the largest deficit at nearly 95 billion euros, while Germany - China's top exporter and second-biggest importer within the bloc - recorded the largest surplus.
Eurostat said the onset of the coronavirus crisis had slowed EU-China trade in the first months of 2020, though these quickly recovered throughout the pandemic and hit peaks in 2021.