Market Sentiment Mixed Amidst Trade Disputes

Market Sentiment Mixed Amidst Trade Disputes

January 24, 2020

TMF Group’s latest survey reveals market sentiment in Singapore suggests local companies are trying to make the best of rising business complexity across global markets.

Against the global backdrop of rising market and geopolitical volatility, companies in Singapore are taking concrete actions to make the best of potential uncertainties despite mixed sentiments, as reflected in a recent survey conducted by TMF Group.

The survey polled over 1,700 companies worldwide to identify the top business predictions for 2020, and included 250 Singapore firms from small to large sizes, to gauge their market outlook and key actions taken to address shifts in global markets.

Across multiple sectors and firm sizes, Singapore companies were split on their business outlook for 2020, displaying a mix of caution and optimism. Specifically, the survey reflected an almost even split between those expressing concern and those seeing opportunity from key international developments:

On the US and China trade dispute, 38 per cent believed the dispute would have a negative impact on the local economy, whilst 32 per cent believed it would have a positive impact.

With regard to Brexit, 32 per cent considered Brexit as a risk to the Singapore market, in contrast with 30 per cent who considered it an opportunity. With regard to the EU and US trade tensions, 30 per cent expressed a pessimistic view for Singapore, with an equally opposing 30 per cent expressing an optimistic view.

Despite the mixed sentiments, Singapore businesses are nonetheless gearing up and taking actions to mitigate risks and leverage potential opportunities arising from these global developments. 38 per cent of local firms revealed that they have increased their operations by expanding their workforce and boosting production capabilities in other countries to avoid being affected by trade disputes. This is in conjunction with firms planning to reduce their operations in countries affected by Brexit (37 per cent) and trade wars (34 per cent).

Additionally, 33 per cent said that they have plans to restructure parts of their business, such as modifying their supply chains in order to avoid the risk of trade disputes.

TMF Group Managing Director Singapore Edmund Lee says  as businesses attempt to navigate rising global complexities, this survey helps the market to better understand how local firms are gearing up to make the best of international developments – both to mitigate risks and to capitalise on new opportunities.

“While Singapore ranks as one of the easiest places to do business in Asia, its open economy pegs its growth prospects closely to the external environment. Geopolitical issues may present opportunities for local firms that are well-prepared and have robust strategies. A particularly relevant issue closer to home is how the volatile socio-political situation in Hong Kong is spurring business prospects in Singapore,” says Lee.

The survey also revealed the top challenges businesses expect for the next decade till 2030. Singapore firms identified trade wars (39 per cent) and the global economic slowdown (34 per cent) as immediate key challenges for home-grown businesses that operate across multiple jurisdictions. This is followed by political and socioeconomic pressures over climate change affecting business strategies and operations (34 per cent).

Looking ahead, while trade tensions and the global economic slowdown will continue to be at the forefront of business concerns for the next few years, 34 per cent of firms expect cyber-crime to become another key challenge for businesses in Singapore by 2030.

(Ed. TMP Group claims the research was conducted by Censuswide, with minimum 250 respondents per the following markets; UK, USA, Brazil, China, Singapore, India and France. Sample being, business decision makers who make decisions on regulation and compliance within Multinational Companies. Censuswide claims it abides by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.)


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