unctad.org | Creative China is booming, bringing Asia along
Creative China is booming, bringing Asia along
30 May 2019
Creative China
The UNCTAD Creative Economy Outlook report has been translated into Chinese and maps the nation's creative rise over the past 15 years.


China’s export of creative goods and services has been a boon for the country’s creative economy – and for the rest of Asia.

A recent UNCTAD report on the creative economy shows that China’s trade in creative goods and services is outstripping those of other countries, making it the driving force behind a prosperous global creative economy over the past 15 years.

It has also pulled along other Asian countries. In the global trade in creative goods, more than 50% of the top performing developing nations were Asian.

“China’s contribution to the global creative economy is both important and has driven more than a decade’s worth of growth in creative industries and services,” said UNCTAD’s creative economy head, Marisa Henderson. “Indications are that it will continue to grow.”

A Chinese version of  the Creative Economy Outlook: Trends in International Trade in Creative Industries was presented at the 4th Beijing International Forum on Creative Economy on 29 May, as part of the China International Fair for Trade in Services.

It shows China’s trade in creative goods grew exponentially between 2002 and 2015, at an annual rate of 14%.

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During the same period, China was the biggest single exporter and importer of creative goods and services, the report finds.

In 2002, the country’s trade in creative goods amounted to US$32 billion. By 2014, this figure had increased more than fivefold, climbing to US$191.4 billion.

An Asian tiger

Currently, China is the world’s biggest art market and its film market is set to expand.

The country’s creative economy growth is being fueled by internet accessibility, a big consumer marketplace and a growing digital economy.

The data also shows that Asia outpaced all other regions, with China and South East Asia combined accounting for US$228 billion of creative exports – almost double that of Europe.

China, Hong Kong (China), India, Singapore, Taiwan Province of China, Turkey, Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico and Philippines were the top 10 performing developing economies stimulating global trade in creative goods.

Among developed economies, the United States, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Poland, Belgium and Japan were the top 10 creative goods exporters.

China market share

China has dominated the bulk of the trade in creative goods over the past 13 years. In 2014, the main regional markets for China’s creative goods exports were Asia (61%), Europe (28%) and the Americas (10%).

The Asian market expanded significantly, doubling in size from 2005, and crowding out other regional markets, with Hong Kong (China), Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates accounting for the large Asian share of Chinese creative goods exports.

European trade partners maintained a 28% share of Chinese creative goods exports over the period.

It is harder to measure its performance in the trade of creative services, and China only reports services trade at a high level.

Yet despite the lack of available data on Chinese creative services imports and exports for the period, indications from within the sector are that creative services saw robust growth, the report notes.

Creative manufacturing has a large role to play in the goods output, but not without a debate around whether the creative input happens elsewhere and only production happening in China.

“Creative China is growing and is buoying creative economy growth across the world. China’s performance is significant, whether combined with other developing countries or in isolation,” the report says.

“As the Chinese economy grows, it’s creative goods and services are set to grow in tandem and will have a lasting impact on trade and high cultural influence,” it concludes.

UNCTAD co-hosted the Fourth Beijing International Forum on Creative Economy on 29 May together with the Beijing Municipality and the World Trade Point Federation. 


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