US, China, UK key offshore target markets for Australia, says HSBC report

April 9, 2018

SYDNEY - Australian companies are concerned about the cost of rising protectionism, but remain optimistic about their cross-border prospects, according to new research HSBC Commercial Banking. The survey reveals that, within the next three to five years, Australian firms plan to expand their business activities in the US (18%), China and the UK (both 17%).

Almost half of Australian businesses (44%) believe BREXIT will positively impact their business, an outlook significantly more bullish than the global average of 24% and second only to India at 49%.

“Approximately 1,500 Australian companies are currently active in the UK, many using the country as a base for Europe, and our survey shows a high degree of optimism about the benefits of a potential free trade agreement (FTA),” said Steve Hughes, HSBC’s Head of Commercial Banking in Australia.

“Australia is already the top supplier  of wine sold in the UK , accounting for one in five imported bottles of wine consumed,” he said.

“A new FTA (between Australia and the UK) could stimulate British appetite for other Australian products and services, and allow Australia to become an entry point to Asia for UK businesses.”

HSBC’s research indicates that Asia-Pacific will be the strongest region for trade growth in the next three to five years, followed by Europe.

India, Vietnam and Bangladesh will become increasingly important for Australian exporters as they look to capitalise on rising middle-class incomes in those countries, the report says.

One in three of the Australian firms surveyed considered a shortage in skills and labour as the main impact of protectionist policies (34%) followed closely by an increased cost of doing international business and a reduction in overseas opportunities (31%).

The report is based on a survey of 6,000 companies in 26 markets, including 200 firms in Australia, and an economic forecast of medium–to long–term bilateral trade in 25 countries and territories. (ATI).