Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Report Positions Asia, Korea in World IT Trade

The World Trade Organization yesterday issued an important report that highlights the role of trade in the development of Korea's information economy over the past decade. The World Trade Report 2007 marks the 60th anniversary of the multilateral trading system. More importantly, it contains a section that examines trade in information technology (IT) products since the December 1996 signing of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) by 23 economies at the first WTO Ministerial Conference in Singapore. When the ITA went into force in 1997 the trade value of the participants exceeded 90 percent of world trade in covered products. A goal of the agreement was to achieve maximum freedom of world trade in IT products by eliminating all tariffs on these products. As noted in the report, an outstanding feature of world trade in IT products was the prominent role of Asia. In 2005 Asian economies accounted for more than 50 percent of world exports and more than 40 percent of imports of IT products. In that year, (as shown in the chart below) Korea was the world's sixth largest exporter, sending IT-related goods worth some $87.95 billion (roughly 81.13 trillion won) to other countries. The top five exporting economies were the EU, China, the U.S., Japan and Singapore. South Korea ranked seventh in the world as an importer of IT products in 2005, purchasing $59.22 billion worth of such products from other countries. Perhaps most remarkably, South Korea was the only country other than China to maintain a continuous increase in world market share over the past nine years, despite the IT bubble bursting in the early 2000s. The entire World Trade 2007 report may be downloaded at the WTO website World Trade of IT Products by Region--Korea's Place

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