Chapter 6: Industry, Technology, and the Global Marketplace


The United States continues to rank high among the world leaders in major technology areas. Advances in U.S. biotechnology, computer, and telecommunication industries continue to influence new technology development and dominate technical exchanges between the United States and its trading partners. New data on patenting trends in the United States bear this out.

Although it also continues to be a leading provider of knowledge-intensive services, the United States may face greater competition in the near future as European countries devote more resources to service-sector R&D. For now, however, exports of U.S. technological know-how sold as intellectual property continue to exceed U.S. imports of technological know-how.

Asia's status as both a consumer and developer of high-technology products is advancing, enhanced by the technological development of many Asian economies, particularly Taiwan, South Korea, and China. Several small European countries, in particular Ireland, Finland, and the Netherlands, also exhibit strong national capacities to develop new technologies and to lead in global markets.

Current data on manufacturing output by high-technology industries in Asia and the several smaller European countries show that these industries already have a capacity to compete successfully with high-technology industries operating in the United States and other advanced countries. A leading indicator of future competition for U.S. industry, recent patenting trends show capacities for technology development growing and broadening within Asia and a transitioning Europe.

The U.S. trade balance in advanced technology products, historically a strong market segment for U.S. industry, has turned negative. Imports of technology products from Asia have grown to the point that they overwhelm trade surpluses with other world regions.

Despite the growing pressures of today's fast-moving global marketplace, the United States continues to be a leading developer and supplier of high-technology at home and abroad. Most likely this success has been influenced by a combination of factors: the nation's long commitment to S&T investments; the scale effects derived from serving a large, demanding domestic market; and the U.S. market's willingness to adopt new technologies. However, these same market dynamics already show signs of benefiting Asia and a more unified Europe and will likely continue to enhance the value of their investments in S&T in the future.

National Science Board.