Global Trade Increases, But US Companies Wary of Risks in Emerging Markets

July 8, 2010
The percentage of US mid-sized companies planning to increase their overseas sales targets has risen to a three-year high, according to new survey results from HSBC's Commercial Banking division. The US component of the HSBC survey, conducted for the ...

The percentage of US mid-sized companies planning to increase their overseas sales targets has risen to a three-year high, according to new survey results from HSBC's Commercial Banking division.

The US component of the HSBC survey, conducted for the third year in a row, polled nearly 650 US senior financial executives from companies with annual sales between $20 million and $5 billion and found that these mid-sized companies are increasingly pinning their growth plans on overseas markets. About seven in ten (72 percent) of those polled said they are planning to increase their overseas sales targets that's up considerably from 49 percent in 2008 and 56 percent in 2009.

Interestingly, more than half (56 percent) of those in the survey reported that their overseas sales are growing faster than domestic sales. (And even though that's a slight rebound from 52 percent last year, it's still below the 67 percent level seen in 2008.)

But, which countries are currently the most appealing for cross-border business?

According to survey respondents, Canada (45 percent) and the UK (38 percent) are now most desirable, outpacing emerging economies like India and Brazil, and even other traditional trading partners, such as China, Germany and Japan, as well.

Although taken as a whole, the data underscores the rapid globalization at the core of America's economy, it's also clear from that last result that businesses remain wary of risks in emerging markets. The survey examined this particular aspect of global trade even closer and found that the perceived risks currently hindering engagement in international business include:


legal complexities and local regulations (49 percent),


complexity of certain international markets (42 percent), and


sovereign (country) risks (29 percent).


Essentially, these perceived threats mirror those that cause headaches for modern supplier networks, and this data indicates once again, that in today's global, complex and sometimes volatile business environment companies are learning to proceed with caution throughout the entire value chain. Mitigating risk for buyers and for sellers has moved towards the top of the corporate agenda (where it belongs) as companies both large and small seek ways to successfully navigate the rocky landscape of today's global marketplace.

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