Skip all navigation and go to page content


Booming Global High-Technology Exports Rearranging World Trade Patterns

The total export volume of high-technology products increased faster than gross production and pushed exports close to 60% of production in 2007, up from 37% in 1995 (figure O-29 ). This increase reflects the broadened international base of high-technology manufacturing, the expansion of multinational firms' overseas production, and a shift in the nature of production to increasingly specialized and geographically dispersed suppliers. The global economic slowdown is mirrored in the greater decline of exports than production and the downturn in the 2008 export share.

The global expansion of high-technology trade has made China the largest single high-technology exporter and has changed the relative positions of the developed and developing countries. China's share of world high-technology exports increased from 6% in 1995 to 20% in 2008, while the Asia-9 maintained a 26%–29% share (figure O-30 ). Japan's export share eroded from 18% to 8%, the U.S. share dropped from 21% to 14%, and the EU maintained a 16%–18% share.[18]

The drop in the U.S. share was driven by below-average U.S. export growth in computers and information and communications (ICT) products, contrasting with China's nearly twelvefold expansion (figures O-30 and O-31 ). Since 1995, China and the Asia-9 have moved from a combined 42% of ICT product exports to 64% of the world's total, and almost 70% of computers alone.

An Asian high-technology supplier zone appears to be developing that is largely arrayed around China. The shift in output of high-technology goods toward developing Asian economies has been accompanied by the growth of intraregional supplier relationships that provide intermediate goods, many for further assembly and eventual export. Chinese high-technology exports to the United States increased from $28 billion in 2000 to $112 billion 8 years later, when the U.S. recession dampened the pace of increase. Chinese exports to the EU increased at a slightly faster pace over the period (figures O-32 and O-33 ).


[18] Internal EU trade was subtracted from both the world and EU totals, because the unified EU market structure makes trade among its member states akin to trade among U.S. states.

Science and Engineering Indicators 2010   Arlington, VA (NSB 10-01) | January 2010