U.S. exports of technology products and services totaled $338 billion in 2019, according to the annual “Tech Trade Snapshot 2020” report released today by CompTIA, the leading association for the global information technology (IT) industry. The report showed that U.S. technology exports directly supported 918,500 American tech industry jobs in 2018, the most recent year of available data, an increase of more than two percent year-over-year.
During the decade, 2010-2019, U.S. exports of technology goods and services increased by approximately $104 billion in value in current dollars, translating to 44 percent growth. Tech services were the primary exports growth driver during the decade, with nearly 76 percent growth, compared to 16 percent growth for tech product exports.
Tech products rank third in terms of U.S. exports, trailing the transportation and motor vehicle category and the chemicals category. To help put into context, the dollar value of U.S. technology product exports is more than double the high-profile oil and gas products category. In the services category, tech ranks second, accounting for 15 percent of total U.S. services exports. Tech services have been a U.S. strength during the decade with exports totaling nearly $750 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $336.5 billion.
“Capitalizing on strong demand for digital transformation technologies, U.S. tech exports over the past few years have grown steadily,” said Tim Herbert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA. “Looking ahead, while all signs point to a continuation of this demand as technology plays an ever-greater role across the global economy, the short-term will undoubtedly be affected by the pandemic crisis.”
U.S.-China Technology Trade
Recent tensions between the U.S. and China were reduced somewhat earlier this year with the signing of a Phase One agreement in January 2020. However, tariffs remain in place on most technology products and tensions have increased further due to COVID. Tariffs between the U.S. and China have impacted trade between the two countries with total tariffs paid on technology product imports from China increasing 193 percent between 2018 and 2019. The hardest hit category was U.S. semiconductors, where the average tariff rate increased 2.8 percent to 18.4 percent. In addition, directional survey data from CompTIA found most respondents reported not being able to pass on the costs of tariffs to customers and therefore businesses are trying to achieve potential duty savings by moving production.
“We’re seeing a supply chain shift in some tech product categories, with import volume gains from countries including Taiwan, Vietnam and Mexico, respectively,” said Stefanie Holland, CompTIA’s vice president for federal and global policy. “There is no certainty for businesses moving production to achieve savings, and it cannot be done easily or across all product lines. Barriers to trade do not foster long-term economic growth, which is especially needed right now.”
A panel discussion on the Tech Trade Snapshot 2020 is also now available. Led by CompTIA’s Advocacy trade experts, the discussion includes additional research findings and insights from CompTIA’s Global Trade & Market Access co-chairs on how the current trade environment is affecting both tech products and digital services. Watch the discussion here.
CompTIA’s “Tech Trade Snapshot 2020” is based on an analysis of import and export data from the U.S. Office of Trade Policy and Analysis, the U.S. International Trade Association, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and The Trade Partnership’s CDexports database. The complete report is available here.