Abstract

Trade statistics portray China as the largest exporter of high-tech products. This paper demonstrates that China's leading position in high-tech exports is a myth created by outdated trade statistics, which are inconsistent with trade based on global supply chains. Current trade statistics mistakenly credit entire values of assembled high-tech products to China, thus greatly inflating its exports. This paper adopted a value-added approach to more accurately measure high-tech exports, revealing that, in 2009, China's valueadded accounted for only about 3 percent of the total value attributed for its exports of iPhones and laptop PCs. Furthermore, if assembly is the only source of value-added by Chinese workers, in terms of technological contribution, these assembled high-tech exports are indifferent from labor-intensive products, and so they should be excluded from the high-tech classification.

Note

I am grateful to the comments of Prema-chandra Athukorala, Wing Thye Woo, and other participants of 2012 Asian Economic Panel Meeting at Keio University. The research assistance by Manisha Pradhananga is highly appreciated.

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