China surpasses US as top IT goods supplier, OECD says

China surpassed the U.S. to become the world’s number-one exporter of IT goods in 2004, according to a report released Monday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

China exported US$180 billion worth of information and communications technology (ICT) goods last year, including mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras, up from $123 billion in 2003. U.S. ICT exports grew at a slower rate, rising from US$137 billion in 2003 to US$149 billion in 2004, the OECD said.

The data also showed that the U.S. imports more ICT goods from China than from any other source. China supplied 27 percent of ICT imports to the U.S. in 2004, up from 10 percent in 2000.

Total worldwide trade by the U.S., including both imports and exports, remained higher than that of China. U.S. world trade reached $375 billion in 2004, compared to $301 billion in 2003. China’s imports and exports were worth $329 billion in 2004, compared to $234 billion the year earlier.

The OECD figures showed that trade between China and other Asian countries is growing, while ICT imports to China and Asia from the European Union and the U.S. is declining. China is now importing more components such as chips from other Asian countries rather than the EU and the U.S.

But China is also building more components itself. Electronic components make up China’s second largest export item, after computers and related equipment, the OECD said.