China Predicted to Become the 'World's Trade Powerhouse'

Feb. 21, 2012
U.S. trade growth will pick up but lag global growth, HSBC reports.

The global economy is entering a new period of international trade growth, according to HSBC's Global Connections trade forecast, with world trade growing at an annual rate of 3.78% over the next five years. HSBC said the world economy will slow in 2012, but then begin growing, picking up speed after the middle of 2014. The bank said overall world trade will grow by $1 trillion year-on-year to 2016.

HSBC predicts even stronger trade growth of 6.23% annually from 2017-2021.

"In 2011, U.S. exports grew an impressive 14.5%, with exports of U.S. manufactured goods reaching a record $1.27 trillion," said Christopher Lewis, executive vice president at HSBC North America. "With the right focus and commitment, the U.S. and the businesses that drive its economy have the opportunity to surpass those marks if they manage their supply chains and do business with the best trading partners regardless of where they are located in the world."

While the U.S. trade growth rate will increase from 1.95% to 5.7% between 2017 and 2021, it is forecasted to lag the annual world rate of 6.23%. By 2016, HSBC predicts, China will pass the United States to become the world's largest trading nation, accounting for 12.3% of world trade.

"Although China's imports and exports are not set to grow as fast as India's, for example, the sheer size of the trade base from which this growth is happening means that China will become the world's trade powerhouse," the report predicts.

However, during the next five years, HSBC expects the growth rate of U.S. exports to China to outpace U.S. imports from the Asian nation. U.S. motor vehicle exports to China are predicted to grow at an annual rate of nearly 12% during the next five years.

Electrical energy will be the fastest emerging trade sector over the next five years, growing at 9.14% annually. This sector encompasses all energy generated from non-fossil fuel sources and will represent, according to the report, "a clear shift in the balance of world trade towards newer energy sources such as nuclear, wind and solar."

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An award-winning editor, Executive Editor Steve Minter covers leadership, global economic and trade issues and energy, tackling subject matter ranging from CEO profiles and leadership theories to economic trends and energy policy. As well, he supervises content development for editorial products including the magazine,, research and information products, and conferences.

Before joining the IW staff, Steve was publisher and editorial director of Penton Media’s EHS Today, where he was instrumental in the development of the Champions of Safety and America’s Safest Companies recognition programs.

Steve received his B.A. in English from Oberlin College. He is married and has two adult children.

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