China overtook the United States as the world's biggest supplier of information and communications technology products last year, according to a report released Monday.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of 30 countries (including the United States) working together for democracy and a market economy, reports an increase in trade between China and other Asian countries. While Chinese technology trade has grown almost 38 percent a year since 1996, the OECD report notes a corresponding decline in European and American imports in Asia.
China exported $180 billion worth of information and communications technology last year. The United States exported $149 billion. In 2003, U.S. exports totaled $137 billion and China's exports totaled $123 billion.
China's share of global information and communications product trading, including imports and exports, rose from $35 billion in 1996 to $234 billion in 2003 and, finally, to $329 billion in 2004. The United States' share rose from $230 in 1006 to $301 billion in 2003 and finally to $375 billion in 2004.
China used to rely on the United States and Europe for electronic components such as computer chips. Those products are increasingly being provided by other Asian countries, including Japan, Chinese Taipei, Korea, and Malaysia, according to the report.
China imports 18 percent of its technology and communications products from Japan, 16 percent from Taipei, 13 percent from Korea and 8 percent from Malaysia.
And China is the largest exporter of those goods to the United States. The country supplies 27 percent of all U.S. technology and communications imports. Its technology trade surplus with the U.S. was $34 billion in 2004. It was $27 billion with the European Union.
Most of China's technology exports are computers and computer-related equipment, according to the study.
Low labor costs contribute the explosion of electronics and computer hardware manufacturing in China, according to a recent survey.