Asian dynamism boosts trade in IT goods: UNCTAD

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Global exports of information and communication technology (ICT) goods climbed by four per cent to $1.8 trillion in 2011, according to new data from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Figures show that the growth was driven by trade in developing Asia, where such exports reached a record $1.2 trillion for the year. That represents 64 per cent of the world total.

UNCTAD says ICT goods–products such as mobile phones, smartphones, laptops, tablets, integrated circuits and various other parts and components–now account for 11 per cent of total merchandise exports. The top 10 exporters of ICT goods made up as much as four-fifths of total ICT trade, led by China, which had exports of $508 billion for the year.

The Asian region also saw increased imports of ICT goods in 2011, to $853 billion, or 44 per cent of such imports worldwide.

Asia's rising share in the manufacture and trade of ICT goods has been fuelled by the cross-border transport of intermediate goods within intraregional production networks. UNCTAD statistics indicate that that pattern has resulted in considerable South–South flows.

South–South flows have become the largest form of trade in ICT goods, representing 40 per cent of global flows. In fact, as much as 80 per cent of all developing-country imports of such products originate from the South. More than half of these trade flows consist of electronic components–such as integrated circuits, processors and controllers–which serve as inputs into final goods.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’35″

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