This study investigates the effects of the two most important indicators of a nation's state of scientific infrastructure:
R&D investment and the number of R&D researchers engaged in high-tech product export competitiveness
for a panel of 11 countries/economies from East Asia from 1994 to 2010. A GMM panel estimation
method was employed to account for the dynamic effect of trade and to control for un-observed country specific effects that may arise due to an inter-country differences and intra-country dynamics. Accordingly, the empirical results reveal that (once controlled for the influence of per capita income) physical capital and infrastructure, a 1% increase in a country’s expenditure on the ratio of R&D to GDP may increase high-tech product export performance by approximately $397 million per year. Other factors constant, a 1% increase in the number of R&D researchers is expected to increase the ability to export high-tech products by approximately
$67 million. The East Asian development experience demonstrates how latecomers can follow systematic industrialization and join the handful of economies that have come a long way toward closing the knowledge gap with the global technological leaders. However, this does not mean that the policy approaches
and overall commitments pursued by each East Asian economy in relation to R&D investment and acquisition of an adequate pool of researchers, and their ultimate achievements in high-tech product export competitiveness were uniform. As a result, there is still a significant variation among countries/economies in terms of performance. This study recommended a number of potential tools and policy instruments that may assist policy makers to foster R&D as an engine to enhance the high-tech product export competitiveness.