Study: Asia-Pacific countries in high-tech top 10

Four Asia-Pacific countries -- Japan, South Korea, Australia and Singapore -- are among the top 10 high-tech countries in the world, according to a report released yesterday by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The UNDP's Technology Achievement Index (TAI) ranked Japan as the fourth-leading technology country with a TAI score of 0.698, followed by South Korea (fifth, 0.666), Australia (ninth, 0.587) and Singapore (10th, 0.585).

Countries were ranked on several criteria, including number of Internet hosts, number of patents granted, technology exports, diffusion of electricity and telecommunication and tertiary education ratios.

Japan scored very highly on the number of patents granted (994 per million people) but poorly in the number of Internet hosts (49 per thousand people). By contrast, Singapore recorded 73 Internet hosts per thousand people but just 8 patents per million people.

Australia outperformed Singapore both in terms of Internet hosts (126 per thousand people) and patents granted (75 per million people), but was dragged down by its poor performance in technology exports, which amounted to 16.2 percent of total exported goods compared to Singapore's 74.9 percent and Japan's 80.8 percent.

New Zealand was ranked fifth in Asia-Pacific and 15th worldwide, with a TAI score of 0.548. New Zealand has proportionately more Internet hosts than any other country except Finland, Norway and the U.S.

However, as with Australia, its ratio of technology exports to total exports, at 15.4 percent, was lower than in countries such as Bolivia, Tunisia and Senegal, according to the UNDP report.

Hong Kong ranked 24th worldwide, with a TAI score of 0.455, followed in Asia by Malaysia (30th worldwide, 0.396), Thailand (40th, 0.337), the Philippines (44th, 0.300) China (45th, 0.299), Indonesia (60th, 0.211) and India (63rd, 0.201). The U.N., like the Beijing government, considers Taiwan as a province of China, so UNDP did not give Taiwan its own score.

Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines scored highly on their exports of technology products and poorly on the number of Internet hosts. None of the Asian countries, with the exception of Japan and Korea, were granted patents at anything near the U.S. or European rates, suggesting that most Asian countries are still at the manufacturing rather than innovating stage of technology development.

Further information about the Technology Achievement Index can be found at the UNDP's Web site at http://www.undp.org.

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