The globalisation of the IT industry is central to ensuring economic growth around the world.
European nations are amongst the most developed, in part down to their embracing of new technologies, whereas developing countries (including the BRIC collective) fared poorly, according to the first edition of The ICT Globalisation Index, an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report commissioned by Huawei.
The report examined a range of indicators across 20 countries spread across five continents, including openness to information and communication technologies (ICT) trade, openness to foreign investment in the ICT sector, research and development (R&D) globalisation, and strength of the ICT environment.
Of the countries surveyed, the UK came out on top, recording an overall score of 69.6 (out of a maximum of 100), followed by the Netherlands (60.3) and Germany (56.0), mainly due to its openness to trade, where it ranked third, and the strength of its ICT environment,
What set the UK apart was its openness to foreign investment, where it scored 91.7, far ahead of any other nation. The report theorised that this high score may be due to the UK's lack of domestic innovation, which was shown by the relatively low proportion of ICT patents registered in the country.
Despite European countries largely scoring highly in the report, the continent did present a significant North-South divide, Christopher Clague, Senior Analyst at the EIU, said whilst presenting the results.
Northern European economies tended to be export-focused, leading them to push in order to be more competitive and commit more to R&D in particular, whereas Southern European economies often imported new products or services, improving relations between countries but stalling domestic development.
Overall, a lack of transparency and poor knowledge of foreign markets were the main factors in hindering future growth, the report found, with Clague stating that many of the agreements than cover global trade are more than 20 years old.
"The ICT sector could be more globalised than at present," he stated during his presentation, adding that issues such as the Edward Snowden revelations had stalled some aspects of international co-operation.
The findings ring especially close to home for Huawei, the report's sponsors, given their past attempts to establish themselves in the West, with the US market in particular proving extremely difficult following allegations of covert government spying.
Overall, developing nations fared poorly in the report, with Clague theorising that a lack of available funds for R&D spending and generally poorer IT infrastructure could be key factors in holding back major potential.
This should improve over time, though, he said, adding that future versions of the report may look extremely different as spending patterns change. Disruptive emerging technologies such as 3D printing could also play their part, Clague said, saying that new innovation in such areas could potentially come from any nation.
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