The Personal Computer industry has recently taken off. Most computers are now manufactured overseas in Asia.

Data and Trends: United States Personal Computer Imports

The Personal Computer industry has recently taken off. Most computers are now manufactured overseas in Asia.

Over the past 20 years, we have seen the personal computer industry blow up. With increased technology and manufacturing abilities, most people in the United States now have access to a personal computer. Many of these computers come from foreign countries where inexpensive labor lowers manufacturing costs.

U.S. Personal Computer History

The increase in U.S. imports of personal computers is closely linked to the technological advances that were happening at that time. So by comparing what advancements were being made at the time with the number of imports into the United States, we can see how one follows the other. The following is a look at the history and data of the U.S. Personal Computer industry.

  • Although Personal Computers existed in the 1970s and ’80s, low demand caused computer manufacturers to build computers home in the United States rather than importing them from foreign manufacturers. The Personal Computer revolution began in the 1970s when computers first entered the public market. The first computers to hit the market were mainly made in small batches. Technology dominant Apple introduced its second computer, the Apple 2 in 1977. 4 million computers were sold before it ended production. As seen in the graph below, there were no computer imports into the U.S. at this point in time.
  • The 1990s is the time period where personal computers were first produced outside of the U.S. in bulk, this is where the graph below begins to grow.  In 1990, HTML, the language used by the Internet was invented, giving personal computers a new purpose. Then, in 1996 Google search engine was created and made computers far more powerful. The use of the World Wide Web opened the doors for a new generation of computers.
  • Personal Computer imports increased consistently from 2000 to 2010 because of grow technological advancements. In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone and the MacBook Air, two game-changing devices. These devices, along with other similar devices started a boom of smartphones, tablet computers, and advanced personal computers. These high demand products were assembled in China for a reduced cost in labor.
  • Finally, in 2011 China became the largest manufacturer of computers, a title it still holds. More computers were imported into the U.S. than ever before. Massive companies such as Foxconn become manufacturing giants, shipping finished goods into the United States. Since 2011 Personal Computer imports into the U.S. have more than doubled.
  • In 2018 the United States imported a record $73.5 billion worth of computers.

U.S. Personal Computer Historical Data Infographic

From the graphic, you can see that foreign computer production has ramped up since the year 2000. Innovations in computing have increased the demand of these products, the industry has grown immensely in the past 20 years.

Click the image for a downloadable PDF

The Personal Computer industry has recently taken off. Most computers are now manufactured overseas in Asia.

Current State of the Imported Computer Industry

The computer industry is taking a hit from the current trade war between the United States and China. Electronic components (unassembled goods) have a 25% tariff imposed on them and fully assembled consumer electronics have a 10% tariff on them as of August 1st. Politicians believe that manufacturing operations for companies such as Apple need to come back to the U.S. Prices are expected to rise for goods made by companies like Apple and Intel.

Stay up to date with the current trade war and subscribe to the Trade Risk Guaranty YouTube page.

Get access to TRG's full library of free resources for U.S. Importers in the Resource Hub.

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Chase Samuels • November 5, 2019


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