Region’s business leaders more optimistic than all other global peers that US-China friction won’t dent their prospects, says HSBC.

Brushing aside worries about protectionism, Southeast Asian businesses have the most bullish trade outlook in the world, a new HSBC report has found.

Expecting more production to swing Asean’s way, businesses are pivoting investment into supply chain technology to turn global trade tensions from a headwind into a tailwind.

The findings come from the HSBC Navigator global survey involving 8,500 businesses in 34 markets in the fall of this year. Within Southeast Asia, more than 1,000 views were sought in five markets: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

ASEAN is one of the most bullish regions for trade and commercial activity. This is despite having the highest proportion of businesses that expect protectionism to rise. According to the report:

  • 86% of ASEAN firms are positive about their company’s prospects in foreign trade — more than any other trade bloc and higher than global average of 77%.
  • 75% of ASEAN businesses believe that governments are becoming more protectionist in their key export markets — the highest reported of all trade blocs and much greater than the global average of 63%.

ASEAN businesses are overwhelmingly bullish on their commercial prospects and fully expect protectionism to rise,” said Tony Cripps, CEO of HSBC Singapore. “This seems counter-intuitive at first glance and it certainly raises the question of whether they are underestimating the trade risks that come with rising protectionism or are shrewdly seeing opportunity amid trade disruption.”

“Either way, supply chain diversion is coming Asean’s way and businesses need to be ready.”

Source: The Bangkok Post

Read the full article here.

Download the full HSBC Navigator report here