TWN Info Service on Finance and Development (Feb11/02)
7 February 2011
Third World Network

United Nations: Asia's share of global ICT exports at record high
Published in SUNS #7080 dated 3 February 2011

Geneva, 2 Feb (Kanaga Raja) -- Asian economies accounted for 66.3 per cent of global exports of information and communication technology (ICT) goods in 2009 (up from 63.8 percent in 2008), with more than one-third of world ICT goods exports now originating in China and Hong Kong-China.

This was revealed in new data released Wednesday by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which said that this surge in Asia's share of global ICT exports supports recent findings that the global financial crisis has led to significant shifts in world trade of ICT goods towards Asia.

According to UNCTAD, global ICT exports, which represented 12 per cent of world merchandise trade in 2009, are increasingly dominated by Asia.

Seven of the top ten exporters are Asian economies. China is by far the largest, with ICT goods exports amounting to $356 billion in 2009, followed by Hong Kong-China ($142 billion), and the United States ($113 billion).

The top ten exporters of ICT goods in 2009 are China ($356 billion), Hong Kong-China ($142 billion), the United States ($113 billion), Singapore ($91 billion), Republic of Korea ($80 billion), Japan ($70 billion), Taiwan ($67 billion), Malaysia ($57 billion), Germany ($55 billion), and the Netherlands ($53 billion).

UNCTAD said that ICT goods are of great significance for many developing economies, especially in Asia.

Reliance on ICT products is most pronounced in the case of Hong Kong-China, where such items represent more than 43 per cent of all merchandise exports.

Other economies in which ICT goods make up 30 per cent or more of exports include China (29.7 per cent), Singapore (33.9 per cent), Taiwan (33 per cent), Malaysia (36.5 per cent) and the Philippines (36.4 per cent).

While ICT exports from most major exporters fell in 2009 as a result of the financial crisis, the decline was particularly pronounced among several European countries, noted UNCTAD.

For instance, ICT exports dropped by more than half in Portugal and Finland, by 36 per cent in Ireland, and by more than 20 per cent in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, and Sweden. Japan and the United States also saw sharp declines.

On the other hand, a few economies saw increases. India's exports increased by a whopping 244 per cent, and those of Malaysia by 18 per cent. Moreover, declines in exports experienced by China, Hong Kong-China, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, and Thailand were relatively modest.

Turning to its findings on imports of ICT goods, UNCTAD said that the United States tops the list, followed by China and Hong Kong-China.

The top ten importers of ICT goods in 2009 are the United States ($231 billion), China ($220 billion), Hong Kong-China ($150 billion), Germany ($78 billion), Singapore ($66 billion), Japan ($63 billion), the Netherlands ($52 billion), the United Kingdom ($48 billion), Mexico ($46 billion) and the Republic of Korea ($42 billion).

Among the major importers, said UNCTAD, declines of more than 35 per cent were registered in 2009 by Finland, Ireland, Portugal, the Russian Federation and Spain. On the other hand, India witnessed a rapid increase in ICT goods imports ($20 billion worth), moving from 28th to 17th in the global ranking of importers.

Economies for which ICT goods represent large shares of their imports are mainly found in East and South-east Asia, which are part of global value chains related to ICT products.

A few Latin American countries also report a high reliance on ICT goods imports, including Costa Rica (17 per cent), Mexico (20 per cent) and Paraguay (26 per cent), said UNCTAD.+