The Japan External Trade Organization said Thursday that global trade in products related to information technology, which has supported growth in world trade since 1999, has been slowing rapidly since the beginning of this year.

In an annual report on trade, the semigovernmental organization said that while international specialization in the assembly and production of IT-related parts has developed, the burst of the so-called IT bubble in the United States has hit exports from and imports to Asia and other regions, underlining the worldwide slump in IT.

Global exports of IT-related goods in 2000 expanded 19.7 percent from the previous year to $1.172 trillion, boosting overall global trade by 12.3 percent to $6.273 trillion, according to the report.

“This is the first time that the $6 trillion mark has been exceeded,” it says. “A primary explanation for this rise in global trade is likely related to the worldwide economic expansion that has stemmed from the U.S.-centered IT investment boom.”

But the growth has decelerated since the second half of last year, bringing about a 4.9 percent decline in IT imports to the U.S. during the January-May period, while IT exports from South Korea fell 13.6 percent and those from Taiwan fell 9.5 percent.

Exports from Japan marked an 11.6 percent decline, indicating the U.S. slowdown has caused a chain reaction in Asia.

Despite the deceleration in world IT markets, both IT exports from and imports to China in the January-May period expanded some 25 percent, the report says, adding the country’s exports and imports increased four times over the 1990s.

Explaining the expansion in Chinese trade, the report says: “Within overall global strategies, Japanese, U.S. and European manufacturers have chosen China as a key manufacturing base in the sphere of consumer goods.

“Also, observing the desire of consumers for cheaper goods, major supermarkets operating worldwide are turning to China for low-cost product procurement and expansion of consignment manufacturing.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.