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  December 11th, 2015 | Written by

Despite Low Global Trade Growth Outlook U.S. Business Optimistic About Trade

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  • Imports are driving U.S. trade, though exports to rise six percent by 2020 as emerging markets recover.
  • Near term outlook for U.S. exports is lower but U.S. is well positioned to take advantage of emerging markets recover.
  • By 2030, China will have surpassed Mexico as the second largest market for U.S. exporters.

Even though world merchandise trade growth is expected to rise just one percent through the end of this year, U.S. businesses are optimistic about trade over the next six months, buoyed by the prospect of changes to government trade regulations, and momentum in the current U.S. domestic economy, according to the latest findings from the US HSBC Global Connections Trade Forecast.

The U.S. will also retain its competitive advantage as a top three trading nation well into 2050, as a third wave of globalization marked by new technologies and increasing economic integration continues to take hold, according to HSBC’s Trade Winds report, which analyzes the last 150 years of trade while projecting the next 35 years. With the total volume of goods expected to quadruple to $68.5 trillion in value by 2050, the U.S. could see more than $4.78 trillion in export revenue, and control almost seven percent of total exports, including technology-intensive exports, as the second top global exporter after China.

More than 77 percent of U.S. business leaders participating in the HSBC Trade Confidence Survey expect trade volumes to increase in the short term, well above the global average of 64 percent. Eighteen percent cited changes to government trade regulation as having a very favorable impact on trade volumes in the next six months, up from 13 percent earlier in the year. This reflects optimism over a preliminary agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest new trade agreement in 20 years, covering 40 percent of the global economy. The survey is an international survey of leaders at small, middle market and large corporate companies engaged in cross-border trade, including around 500 in the U.S.

“The trade outlook for the U.S. looks strong, as a positive trade policy environment, and stable domestic economy favor continued growth in imports, particularly from China, the leading country of origin for US imports, “‎said Inwha Huh, Head of Global Trade and Receivables Finance for HSBC in the US and Canada.  “Although the near term outlook for U.S. exports is forecast to be lower in the next few years, constrained by weakness of foreign demand and a strong dollar, U.S. businesses are well positioned to take advantage of the emerging markets recovery with six percent export growth expected by 2020.”

Globally, the HSBC Trade Forecast points to the Chinese slowdown as a key contributor to the drop off in world trade. The forecast sees the developed markets continuing to lead on international trade growth to 2019 and 2020, with strong performance from the U.S. and Eurozone (five to six percent) before the emerging markets recover, led by an upturn in China as domestic policy stimulus gains traction.

Over the longer term, the trade forecast shows global economic growth to be strongest among the economies of east and south Asia. Two-way trade flows between the U.S. and Asia are expected to grow in importance relative to slower-growing trade ties with industrialized economies. U.S. exports to China are expected to grow by nine percent a year on average in the 2020s, so that by 2030 China will have surpassed Mexico as the second largest market for U.S. exporters.

“Increased trade with Asia, particularly China, represents a major business opportunity for U.S. businesses,” said Huh. “And with the recent IMF decision to include China’s currency in its SDR basket, U.S. companies may want to consider how to make renminbi part of their business strategy.”