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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Climbing Up the Technology Ladder? High-Technology Exports in China and Latin America


In this paper we determine the “dynamic revealed competitiveness position” (DRCP) of nations for high technology exports between 1980 and 2005. We find that the developed world has lost significant market share in high technology and that China has climbed the high technology ladder during this period. In 1980 China was ranked 99th of all nations in terms of the percentage of global exports in high technology. By 2005 China climbed to second place in the world, first place if high technology exports from Hong Kong are included. We also find that close to 95 percent of all of Latin American and Caribbean countries’ (LAC’s) exports are under some sort of “threat” from China, comprising almost 12 percent of total exports from LAC. This is most pronounced in Mexico and Costa Rica, where over 87 percent of all high technology exports are under threat and where such exports represent over 24 percent of total exports in both countries. Most of these trends become very accentuated during the period 2000 to 2005, when one could most make the case that China is “taking away the ladder” from LAC.

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