U.S. exports of advanced technology products (ATP) fared better than other non-advanced technology exports during the recent U.S. recession, says a new report from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

NSF”s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics reports that ATP exports fell from $270 billion in 2008 to $245 billion in 2009. But this 9 percent drop was less than half the decline of non-ATP exports.

ATP exports embody new or leading-edge breakthroughs in science and technology, including drugs developed from gene therapy, nuclear resonance imaging, micro-integrated circuits, robotics, advanced materials, and civilian and military satellites.

The finding results from U.S. Census Bureau data taken from ATP trade in the 10 ATP technology areas defined by the agency with a focus on four technology areas: aerospace, electronics, information and communications technology, and life science. Together these four areas accounted for 85 percent of U.S. ATP exports in 2010.

NSF”s InfoBrief, “U.S. Exports of Advanced Technology Products Declined Less Than Other U.S. Exports in 2009,” also says U.S. ATP exports recovered in 2010 but lagged behind the growth of non-ATP exports. In 2010, U.S. ATP exports improved by 11 percent as compared to 2009, but other types of U.S. exports expanded at 23 percent, twice the rate of ATP exports.

The NSF report also describes U.S. ATP trade with selected major economies and regions. It says the 2009 decline of U.S. ATP exports was steeper for Asia as compared to those destined for the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement zone.

Exports to Asia fell from $94 billion in 2008 to $79 billion in 2009; at 15 percent, it was the largest decline among the three regions. According to NSF”s report, the decline was driven by a drop in electronics exports to Asia, the most important export market for U.S.-advanced technology products, and a drop in information and communications technology exports.

During the 2008–2009 period, U.S. ATP exports to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan declined steeply (between 19 and 29 percent), but exports to China saw little change. In 2010, however, U.S. exports to Asia grew faster than U.S. exports to the other two regions.

To read the full NSF report on this story, click here.