Global Trade in High-Tech Goods

Strong growth in recent years, with Asian leadership (primarily China, but also Taiwan), ahead of Europe and the United States


Consumption pattern Foreign markets High-tech International marketing

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The dimensioning and classification of the world trade of High-Tech products appears, today more than ever, to be an extremely topical issue, in a world that is increasingly divided between West and the Rest and increasingly marked by the technological clash between China and the United States.
Global trade in Advanced Technology Products is in fact increasingly at the center of international attention, in a context of strongly growing but constantly changing and evolving demand.

Although it is not always trivial to identify the perimeter of this category of goods, due to the multiple applications, the analysis below takes as reference the classification of the Advanced Technology Products (High-Tech) by the US Census Bureau, which identifies the most technologically advanced industrial sectors, segmenting them by macro-categories, among which we find:

  • Biotechnology and Life Sciences;
  • Electronics and ICT;
  • Robotics and automation;
  • Aerospace.

The evolution of world trade in High-Tech products

Analyzing the historical evolution of the sector, the demand for High-Tech products has experienced rapid development in recent years.
As documented by the following graph, before the Great Recession, world trade in the sector amounted to around 2 trillion dollars, a value which has substantially more than doubled over the last thirteen years.

Fig.1: Worldwide Demand for Advanced Technology Products
(1995-2023, bn$)

Source: ExportPlanning

The strong growth has brought the overall demand for High-Tech products to an all-time high, close to $5 trillion, compared to a further acceleration experienced precisely in the post-pandemic period.

The major international exporters of High-Tech products

The picture of the major international players highlights a clear and strong role of Chinese leadership: as shown in the following graph, in fact, the Dragon country has long overtaken the United States in global exports of highly technological products, today ranking on substantially double values compared to the US player.
Not far from the USA we find the first European partner, Germany, followed by Taiwan (due to the country's very strong specialization in semiconductors) and the Netherlands.

Fig.2: Major global Players in Advanced Technology Products
(1995-2023, bn$)

Source: ExportPlanning

The share of world trade held by Asia as a whole appears to be substantially leading, essentially holding around 50%; followed by Europe (especially thanks to the results in Biotechnology and Life Sciences) with a share close to 30% and finally North America, with just over 15%.