Coface Sees Higher Risk in Global Business Picture
Of the 14 sectors monitored by the global credit insurer Coface economists in three regions of the world, there were more downgrades than upgrades in 2015. In 2015, one-third of sectors assessed in the high and very high risk categories.
The biggest loser was the United States energy sector, which underwent two downgrades as a result in the drop in oil prices, a drastic cuts in investments, and the high indebtedness of companies working in exploration and production. On a global scale, metals is the sector most at risk, assessed as very high risk in emerging Asia and now also in Western Europe.
Coface considers Western Europe as the most risky region right now, with none of the sectors assessed at this time at low risk. This, despite the fact that two of Coface’s very few risk rating improvements concern Western Europe. Chemicals and information and communication technologies (ICT) sectors were upgraded as medium risk in October 2015. “Despite this good news,” says Coface’s report, “the recovery is still too disparate for all of the sectors in the zone to benefit from it.”
Coface’s latest Panorama report identifies a number of burdensome realities faced by industries in different sectors and across global regions. There has been a slowdown in sales across several sectors, for reasons that are specific to each sector.
In the textile and clothing sector in emerging Asia, apparel sales have slowed, cotton inventories are high, and China, which accounts for 70 percent of the region’s GDP, is suffering from a loss of cost competitiveness. “These disruptions mean uncertainty for producers,” says the Coface report. Coface downgraded this sector to high risk.
The slowdown in retail sales in the United States and especially in Canada, which experienced a recession during the first half of 2015, is at the root of the revision of North America’s retail sector to medium risk. “In Canada, the economic dependence on oil and household debt levels are impacting consumption, which slowed to 1.7 percent year-on-year at the end of the third quarter, compared to 2.6 percent in 2014,” says the report. “Falling prices are an additional threat.”
Despite the signs of a recovery in the construction and automobile industries that feed the demand, metals in Western Europe is going through a difficult period. Steel production is declining in favor of low-cost imports from Asia. During the first seven months of 2015, Europe imported twice as much steel from China as it did in 2013. An anti-dumping tax, implemented in August for six months by the European Commission, is expected to help European companies regain their competitiveness. Coface warns of destabilization in this sector, placing the sector in the very high risk category.