HSBC Navigator provides comprehensive insight into the now, next and how for business, representing the views of over 9,100 business decision-makers across 35 markets. This report gives an understanding of how businesses like yours can continue to grow now and in the future.
Southeast Asia: home to some of the world’s most bullish businesses
Southeast Asian businesses are amongst the most confident in the world. Businesses are getting ahead of the game by expanding into new markets and focusing on sustainability as a way to grow sales. More businesses in ASEAN than elsewhere globally believe they have a role to play in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Strong optimism paves the way to long-term growth
Businesses in ASEAN are optimistic about the future, with 81% projecting growth in the next year. Longer-term, businesses are even more bullish. 33% of ASEAN firms are expecting to be ‘high-growth’ – that is, they are anticipating growth of 15% or more over the next five years – a sentiment shared by only 26% of firms globally.
When it comes to future growth, ASEAN firms are turning to trade. An overwhelming 85% of ASEAN companies are positive about their company’s prospects for international trade in the next two years. Business confidence is also rising – half of ASEAN firms are more optimistic about growth than they were a year ago.
This optimistic outlook is being driven by the business confidence in markets like Indonesia, where 54% of firms are projecting growth of 15% or more in the next year – compared to just 22% globally. On a five-year horizon, Indonesia's optimism climbs higher again with 61% anticipating growth upwards of 15%, compared to just 26% of firms globally that are expecting the same. Vietnam and Thailand are also bullish with many firms expecting growth of 15% or more in the next year (39% and 32% of firms, respectively). Looking further ahead, optimism is up again – 43% of Vietnamese firms and 39% of Thai firms expect to see these growth rates over the next five years. Meanwhile lower levels of optimism in more mature markets may be holding ASEAN back. Only 17% of Singaporean businesses expect to be ‘high-growth’ over the same time period.
In terms of sectors, manufacturing firms in ASEAN are the most positive – with 35% projecting to be ‘high growth’ over the next five years. Manufacturing companies are keener on entering new markets (40%) as well as introducing new products and services (37%), compared to other industries.
Companies across the bloc are also looking to trade for benefits beyond the bottom line. Many businesses are pointing to societal upsides such as trade’s ability to drive inclusion, foster peace and stability, lift people out of poverty as well as create employment opportunities. And while there is strong optimism, ASEAN businesses are also preparing to adapt, with 62% of ASEAN firms expecting to totally or substantially change their business in the next five years.
of businesses expect their sales to grow in the next year
|ASEAN||Next year||Next five years|
|Grow by 5% or less||18%||18%|
|Stay the same||5%||5%|
|Expect sales to shrink||14%||8%|
|APAC||Next year||Next five years|
|Expect sales to grow*||77%||82%|
|Grow by 15% or more||19%||23%|
|Grow by 6-14%||37%||36%|
|Grow by 5% or less||21%||22%|
|Stay the same||9%||7%|
|Expect sales to shrink||14%||10%|
|North America||Next year||Next five years|
|Expect sales to grow*||81%||86%|
|Grow by 15% or more||32%||38%|
|Grow by 6-14%||34%||33%|
|Grow by 5% or less||16%||16%|
|Stay the same||7%||5%|
|Expect sales to shrink||12%||8%|
|Europe||Next year||Next five years|
|Expect sales to grow*||79%||80%|
|Grow by 15% or more||18%||19%|
|Grow by 6-14%||32%||33%|
|Grow by 5% or less||29%||27%|
|Stay the same||9%||9%|
|Expect sales to shrink||10%||10%|
*This is the sum of grow by 5% or less, 6-14%, 15% or more.