HSBC’s global survey ‘Navigator: Now, next and how for business’, covering 6000 companies
in 26 markets, has found that firms in India are most concerned about rising protectionism
across the world.
The survey data shows that almost nine in ten businesses in India feel that governments are
turning increasingly protectionist, leading to a rise in the cost of doing international business,
altering trade routes and raising hurdles to obtaining trade finance.
This is significantly higher than the global average where, of the 6,000 firms surveyed, three in
five (61%) think governments are becoming more protective of their domestic economies.
Other regions where the sentiment is strongest among companies are MENA (70%) and AsiaPacific
(68%). In the USA, 61% believe protectionism is on the rise, while in Europe, half (50%)
are seeing a rise in protectionist tendencies.
Rajat Verma, Head of Commercial Banking, HSBC India said, “An increase in protectionist
sentiment is causing concern about the cost of doing cross-border trade and international
business. Companies are adapting business plans and relationships to participate in shifting
supply chains. Strategies include increasing regional trade, establishing joint ventures or local
subsidiaries in more markets and capitalising on trends in consumer demands and digital
Trade initiatives that are likely to lower trade barriers are viewed positively in India, as a
consequence of the especially-high concern about protectionism. Indian firms are most united
in the positive impact of ASEAN 2025 and SAFTA on their businesses.
Globally, majority of firms are looking to regional partners to develop trade opportunities, with
almost three quarters (74%) of overseas trade in Europe and Asia-Pacific being conducted
within their ‘home’ region. This trend is set to continue with regional ties being prioritised in
firms’ expansion plans for the next three to five years.
Firms around the world are very focused on growth, with more than three in four (77%)
businesses optimistic about their international business prospects, and expect the volume of
trade to increase over the next 12 months. Reasons behind this confidence include an increase
in demand for their products from consumers and businesses (33%), favourable economic
conditions (31%) and the greater use of technology (22%) in driving growth

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