The Strategist

HSBC: protectionism engulfs the global economy

03/23/2018 - 04:50

A global report suggests that since protectionism becomes the key slogan of governments, companies are looking for various ways to overcome any obstacles to trade.

Magda Ehlers via pexels
Magda Ehlers via pexels
Of the 6,000 firms surveyed by HSBC, 61% said that governments have become even more protective of their domestic economy. This sentiment was the strongest among companies in the Middle East and North Africa (70%) and the Asia-Pacific region (68%). In the USA, 61% of respondents noted the growth of protectionism, while only 50% in Europe observe the growth of protectionist tendencies.

The survey, released on Wednesday, also showed that most firms are turning to regional partners for developing trading opportunities. Almost three quarters (74%) of foreign trade in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region are conducted in the same region.

Noel Quinn, head of the global office for commercial clients HSBC, said that enterprises show a flexible approach, trying to win positions in the global trading environment.

"They consider the emergence of electronic marketing and electronic supply chains as a way of compensating for a number of protectionist measures," he said.

Quinn noted that 28% of the firms surveyed rely on joint ventures and subsidiaries to overcome any local barriers. He added that many firms openly admit that they face higher costs because of protectionism.

Despite the fears that arise against the backdrop of protectionism, the same HSBC report states that more than three-quarters of respondents are optimistic about future prospects in international trade.

The main reasons for this confidence were the growth of demand from consumers and business, favorable economic conditions, as well as a wider use of technologies to stimulate growth and reduce costs.

The rather weak dollar may be another source of support for global trade.

According to HSBC, the US dollar, which fell by 8% on a trade-weighted basis since the first quarter of 2017, should help increase the volume of trading in other countries in the future.

The bank's researchers cited data for the past 30 years, which showed that weakness in world trade reflects the periods of a strong US dollar.

HSBC also asked about the impact of global government policies and found that there were concerns when problems arose outside of the company's own region.

So, almost 60% of respondents in Asia thought that ASEAN 2025 and China's One Belt One Road Initiative will help their business over the next two years. On the contrary, the majority of respondents in Europe and North America stated that these initiatives will have no impact.

As for US policy, almost 40% of global companies doubt that the decisions made in Washington will not have any impact over the next two years.


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