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Global sales of tech devices hit $1.8tr in 2011, says UN

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Wi-Fi integrated products on display at a recent technology fair  in Las Vegas. A UN agency says exports of mobile devices rose by four per cent in 2011. Photo/AFP

Wi-Fi integrated products on display at a recent technology fair in Las Vegas. A UN agency says exports of mobile devices rose by four per cent in 2011. Photo/AFP 

By Okuttah Mark

Posted  Wednesday, January 30  2013 at  17:51

In Summary

  • The growth was driven by trade in Asia, where such exports reached a record $1.2 trillion for the year, representing 64 per cent of the world total.
  • 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.
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Global exports of mobile phones, smartphones, laptops, tablets and integrated circuits climbed by four per cent to $1.8 trillion in 2011, according to new United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) data.

The growth was driven by trade in Asia, where such exports reached a record $1.2 trillion for the year, representing 64 per cent of the world total.

“The top ten 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,” says the UNCTAD report.

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.

Meanwhile, Africa and Latin America saw their exports decline in 2011 both in absolute and relative terms.

Since 2000, Africa and Latin America have maintained relatively constant export shares, while the share of developed countries has tended to fall by about five per cent annually.

For many finished ICT goods, consumers in developed countries remained the prime importers for the period 2000–2011. For example, developed economies still accounted for almost three quarters of the global value of consumer electronic equipment imports.

Most of these imports originated in Asia. The demand for ICT gadgets was sustained in 2011, especially for mobile phones, smartphones, and portable computers, all of which hit record global import levels and high growth rates in 2011.

Telephones for cellular networks (including mobile phones and smartphones) are the finished ICT goods category with the single largest import value ($174 billion), up a remarkable 22 per cent from 2010.

Double-digit import growth rates were recorded in many developed and developing countries.

In Burkina Faso, Sri Lanka and Togo, such imports more than doubled in 2011, suggesting particularly fast-growing demand.

The top ten exporters of this type of product were, in descending order: China, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan Province of China, Hungary, Hong Kong (China), Mexico, the US, Singapore, Germany and India.

Portable automatic data processing machines (including laptops, netbooks and tablets) made up the largest imported item in the computer and peripheral equipment category.