Cultural and creative industries in Asia: comparing GDPs

05 2015 | Issue 5

Text/Wong Io Man

Cultural and creative industries have come to make up a significant share of many economies. This issue, we analyse these industries in three Asian markets, namely, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

South Korea is now a powerhouse of cultural exports in Asia, and is the subject of many studies around the world. According to data released by South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in 2010 and 2011, gaming added the most value to the South Korea economy among cultural and creative industries in 2009, with a share of 50.89%, making it also the most profitable. After that is knowledge information, publishing and animation. The sector that adds the least value is film, followed by advertising.

However, Agnes Lam, Assistant Dean for Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Macau, believes that the rankings are likely to change in the future, particularly because of the influence of K-Pop, even though gaming currently dominates. In addition, the importance of knowledge information, publishing and animation, which includes e-books, points towards the continuing importance of the internet and digital industries going forward.

In Taiwan, the government in 2009 began to redefine the direction of its cultural and creative industries, focusing on six industries in particular. The Council for Culture Affairs released figures in 2009 showing that the value of cultural and creative industries in Taiwan in 2002 totalled some NT$435 billion, rising to NT$633 billion in 2007. Between 2002 and 2007, cultural and creative industries grew on average 7.78% a year, compared to 3.7% for Taiwan’s GDP as a whole. In terms of value added, these industries added on average about NT$231 billion to Taiwan’s economy in 2002, and an estimated NT$335 billion in 2007, an increase of NT$104 billion.

In Hong Kong, government data show that in 2010 the value of cultural and creative industries rose 22.8% from a year ago to HK$77 billion. The growth rate was markedly faster than the 9.8% nominal GDP growth rate. The share of cultural and creative industries of Hong Kong’s GDP also increased from 4.1% in 2009 to 4.6% in 2010. Taking a longer view of the future, one can look at the growth rate of cultural and creative industries from 2005 to 2010, which grew on average 8.3% a year, compared to 4.6% for nominal GDP.

“As these figures show, Macao’s neighbours have done well in the development of cultural and creative industries. This shows that in the era of the knowledge-driven economy, culture is an important indicator for measuring competitiveness, and the commercial value of cultural and creative industries are crucial in boosting ‘soft power,’” said Agnes Lam.