International Business

HSBC survey: Trade to accelerate in next six months

View of PortMiami from a gantry crane perched high above the port.
Oct. 7, 2013
View of PortMiami from a gantry crane perched high above the port. Oct. 7, 2013
Carl Juste / Miami Herald Staff

Prospects for trade are looking up.

Sixty-seven percent of U.S. business leaders are expecting to see a rapid increase in the volume of exports and imports over the next six months, according to the HSBC Global Connections Trade Report.

That’s a marked improvement over the second half of 2012, when just 48.3 percent of business leaders said they expected trade would rise.

The reasons for optimism? The business leaders cite improving global economic conditions and stepped-up demand for infrastructure goods.

That sanguine view of trade prospects pushed the HSBC Trade Confidence Index from 107 to 114, highest since the international bank began the index. HSBC’s global survey of 5,800 small and middle-market businesses included about 300 U.S. firms that are engaged in international trade.

Despite a slowdown in emerging markets, in the near term U.S. businesses viewed Latin America as the region with the most promise for growth in exports, followed by China and Canada. HSBC said infrastructure trade is expected to triple from now through 2030 when it will account for 54 percent of total global exports.

Canada is and will remain the most important export market for the United States over the next two decades, according to HSBC’s trade forecast, but U.S. exports to China are expected to more than double in coming decades from 7 percent today to 18 percent in 2040.

U.S. trade with the world during the first eight months of this year was $2.54 trillion — .09 percent down from the same time frame last year.

Through August, trade through the Miami Customs District, which includes ports from Palm Beach to Key West, also declined slightly — down .59 percent — to $80.175 billion, according to an analysis by World City, a Coral Gables data research and media company.

Miami district exports declined by 5.46 percent, while imports were up 6.57 percent.


The road to exporting in Latin America begins far earlier than the point when products leave port headed for international markets.

In Pucallpa, Peru, in the remote Selva region, wood products exporters must move their goods 466 miles over mostly unpaved roads through the soaring Andes mountains to reach the Port of Callao.

Beer producers in Punta Arenas, at the southern tip of Chile, must move their products 1,800 miles to the port of San Antonio in the central part of the country if they want to export.

A new InterAmerican Development Bank report, Too Far to Export: Domestic Transport Costs and Regional Export Disparities, says producers in those regions, as well as remote areas of Colombia, Brazil and Mexico, who choose to export are members of a rare breed.

“Firms with the resources and skills to produce goods in high demand by regional or world markets face high domestic transport costs that destroy their competitive advantages, literally along the road. Or they refrain from exporting altogether,’’ said the IDB study.

Consequently, producers in remote municipalities are missing out on the region’s recent trade boom.

The study concludes that Latin American countries could significantly increase their exports if they invested in improving roads and upgrading railways and waterways.


Some 1,800 bankers from more than 51 countries are expected in town Nov. 17-19 for the FELABAN Annual Assembly, which is organized by the Latin American Federation of Banks and the Florida International Bankers Association.

The event, which will be held at the InterContinental Hotel in Miami, is the largest gathering of senior managers from Latin American banks and financial institutions and their counterparts from the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia.

Among the topics they’ll tackle are opportunities in Brazil, targeting the women’s market, emerging economies, how relations between Latin America and Asia will impact economic growth in the region, the Latin American trade and economic outlook, challenges and opportunities for Latin American banks, the regulatory environment, and the impact of the global economy on Latin America.

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