As protectionism becomes a key watchword for executives, a global report has suggested that companies are finding various ways to ride out any barriers to trade.
Of 6,000 firms surveyed on behalf of HSBC, 61 percent said that governments were becoming more protective of their domestic economies. The sentiment was strongest among companies in the Middle East and North Africa (70 percent), and Asia-Pacific (68 percent). In the U.S., 61 percent believed that protectionism was on the rise, while in Europe, only 50 percent saw a rise in protectionist tendencies.
The survey, released Wednesday, also found that a majority of firms were looking to regional partners to develop trade opportunities. Almost three quarters (74 percent) of overseas trade in Europe and Asia-Pacific is being conducted within the same region.
Noel Quinn, chief executive, global commercial banking at HSBC, said businesses are proving themselves agile at straddling the global trading environment.
"They see the emergence of e-marketing and electronic supply chains as a way to offset some of the protective measures. A number of businesses are relocating part of their supply chain to sit within the markets," he said in a phone call with CNBC.
Quinn said that as many as 28 percent of firms surveyed were looking at joint ventures and subsidiary companies to navigate any local barriers. He added that many other firms were openly accepting that higher costs were coming due to protectionism and will "just have to get on with it."
Despite admitting to protectionist fears, the same HSBC report claimed that more than three-quarters of respondents were optimistic about future international trade prospects.
The main reasons behind this confidence included an increase in demand from consumers and businesses, favorable economic conditions, as well as the greater use of technology to drive growth and help reduce costs.
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