Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Parts Return to U.S. as Products

WASHINGTON -- The United States exported a record $181 billion worth of computer components and other high-tech electronic parts last year, but much of it came back as assembled products, resulting in a record $40 billion trade deficit for the industry, an industry study said Sunday.

The biggest markets for high-tech exports continue to be Canada, Mexico, Japan and Britain, although annual exports to Japan dropped by $2 billion over the last two years to $16 billion, according to the survey by the American Electronics Association and the Nasdaq stock market.

Sixty-seven nations each imported at least $50 million in American high-tech goods last year, compared to 60 countries in 1993, the report said.

In a sign of revived markets in some troubled economies, the fastest-growing big markets for U.S. high-tech imports were in countries hit hardest by economic problems. The Philippines leads the pack, with four other Asian nations - South Korea, China, Malaysia and Taiwan - in the top 10 largely because more U.S. high-tech equipment is being manufactured or assembled there.

Exports of computers, consumer electronics, communications equipment, semiconductors, electronic medical equipment and other high-tech equipment was up from $166 billion in 1998 to $181 billion last year, compared to $98 billion in 1993, the report said.

While these exports now represent more than one-quarter of all U.S. exports, up from 21 percent in 1993, the report said U.S. high-tech imports from most of the hottest markets also have increased dramatically as U.S. companies open more production plants abroad.

The value of high-tech products from the Philippines, for example, have increased fourfold in the 1990s to $7.9 billion. Imports of high-tech products also increased dramatically, particularly from Asia, adding to the big trade deficits with Japan, China, Taiwan, Malaysia and other nations.

In addition, the report cites some other surprises:

-Ireland, one of the smaller European economies, is now the fifth-largest U.S.-technology importer in Europe.

-Brazil has the fastest-growing technology market in South America, although Chile and Argentina rank ahead in Internet and computer usage.

-Singapore, which has a higher percentage of young technical degree holders than any country in Asia, now ranks second, behind Britain and ahead of Japan, in U.S.-technology manufacturing investment overseas.

-The leader in Internet use per capita for the Asia-Pacific region is Australia. Japan ranks sixth. The United States still leads the world, and is expected to remain ahead for at least the next five years.