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U.S. Trade Optimism at All-Time High; U.S. Dominance in Technology Exports to Remain Strong: HSBC Report

Trade optimism among U.S. business leaders is at an all-time high and the U.S. is positioned to retain its dominance as a global technology export leader, including in industrial machinery, for the next twenty years, according to research by HSBC.

However, to maintain its supremacy, the U.S. will need to increase research and innovation investment, according to data from the latest HSBC Global Connections Trade Report, which includes the short-term trade trends from the HSBC Trade Confidence Index and mid- and long-term trade outlook from the HSBC Trade Forecast.

U.S. wholesalers/manufacturers most optimistic about stronger trade flows

The U.S. HSBC Trade Confidence Index rose to 115 from 114 six months earlier, the highest level since its inception, and higher than the global average of 113, driven by stronger global demand and increased private sector confidence. The index is an international survey of small and middle market businesses engaged in cross-border trade including around 250 in the U.S. Unexpectedly strong recovery in leading industrialized nations, including the U.S., has boosted global trade confidence, according to the report.

U.S. wholesalers, retailers and manufacturers were the most optimistic about the six month trade outlook with more than 70 percent of these sector leaders expecting stronger trade flows. Other key findings include:

  • Two thirds of U.S. respondents expect trade volumes to rise in the next six months
  • 50 percent cited increased global demand and improved economic conditions in key industries, including manufacturing, as key drivers of the increased business.
  • Most U.S. business leaders still see Asia as the most promising export region (33 percent), followed by Latin America (28 percent).
  • Within Asia, Vietnam and Korea are the fastest growing destinations for U.S. exports in the near term; China is expected to be the market with the greatest upside potential over the longer term.
  • Canada, Mexico and China are expected to continue to rank as the top destinations for U.S. exports for the next two decades, with Korea and Brazil rounding out the top five.

“The U.S. has a highly educated workforce, advanced technology and high R&D investment rates,” said Steve Bottomley, HSBC Group General Manager, Senior Executive Vice President and Head of Commercial Banking for HSBC in North America. “And with high demand growth in emerging markets longer term, U.S. businesses and exporters should greatly benefit.”

U.S. to remain global leader in technology exports over the next 20 years

In fact, U.S. technology-intensive exports will grow faster than total U.S. trade over the midterm, and the U.S. is expected to retain its position as a top technology goods exporter for the next two decades, third highest among 25 countries included in the forecast. However, emerging markets are rapidly increasing R&D investment to capture more of the value of their merchandise exports, and the U.S. still has room to improve its R&D spending, which currently ranks below Japan and Korea, according to the report.

“As an owner of the intellectual property of high value goods, the U.S. and other developed economies currently dominate the global technology export market, but under-investment in R&D over the long term can pose a competitive threat,” said Prabhat Vira, Regional Head of Global Trade and Receivables Finance in North America for HSBC. “The world economy is becoming more knowledge-intensive and for the U.S. to retain its lead, it’s crucial that businesses continue to invest in research and innovation.”

Technology goods are products such as office and automatic data-processing machines, telecommunications equipment, electrical machinery and appliances, and photographic apparatus and optical goods. Technology is essential for maintaining and enhancing standards of living, promoting business investment and supporting economic development.

Other trade findings from the report include:

  • Technology-intensive goods are expected to account for 17 percent of the total growth in U.S. export goods for the remainder of the decade.
  • Globally, trade in high-tech goods will outpace growth in total merchandise exports, increasing its share of total goods traded from 22 percent in 2013 to over 25 percent by 2030.
  • HSBC forecasts U.S. trade growth of six percent annually from 2014 to 2016.
  • HSBC forecasts global trade growth of eight percent annually to 2030.
  • U.S. exports will be driven primarily by industrial machinery, followed by transport equipment and scientific apparatus.
  • On the import front, industrial machinery, transport and information, communications and technology equipment are expected to top U.S. imports for the foreseeable future.

For a copy of the Global Connections Trade Forecast report and for further information, log onto An infographic which portrays key findings from the latest trade forecast is also available upon request.

Notes to editors:

For updates from the HSBC Press Office, follow us on Twitter:

HSBC’s Trade Forecast encompasses trade data for 25 countries and territories key to world trade.

About the HSBC Trade Forecast - Modelled by Oxford Economics

Oxford Economics has tailored a unique service for HSBC which forecasts bilateral trade for total exports/imports of goods, based on HSBC’s own analysis and forecasts of the world economy to generate a full bilateral set of trade flows for total imports and exports of goods, and balances between 180 pairs of countries.

Oxford Economics employs a global modelling framework that ensures full consistency between all economies, in part driven by trade linkages. The forecasts take into account factors such as the rate of demand growth in the destination market and the exporter's competitiveness. Exports, imports and trade balances are identified, with both historical estimates and forecasts for the periods 2014-16, 2017-20 and 2021-30. Sectors are classified according to the UN’s Standard International Trade Classifications according to the UN’s Standard International Trade Classifications (SITC) and grouped into 30 sector headings. More information about the sector modeling can be found on

HSBC Trade Confidence Index

The HSBC Trade Confidence Index is conducted by TNS on behalf of HSBC in a total of 23 markets, and is the largest trade confidence survey globally. The current survey comprises six-month views of 5,800 exporters, importers and traders from small and mid-market enterprises on: trade volumes, risk to suppliers, need and access to trade finance, impact of exchange rates and regulation. The fieldwork for the current survey was conducted between November – December 2013 and gauges sentiment and expectations on trade activity and business growth in the next six months.

HSBC Commercial Banking

For nearly 150 years we have been where the growth is, connecting customers to opportunities. Today, HSBC Commercial Banking serves businesses ranging from small enterprises to large multinationals in almost 60 developed and faster-growing markets around the world. Whether it is working capital, trade finance or payments and cash management solutions, we provide the tools and expertise that businesses need to thrive. With a network covering three quarters of global commerce, we make HSBC the world’s leading international trade and business bank. For more information see

About HSBC Bank USA, N.A.

HSBC Bank USA, National Association (HSBC Bank USA, N.A.), with total assets of $179.9bn as of 30 September 2013 (US GAAP), serves 3 million customers through retail banking and wealth management, commercial banking, private banking, asset management, and global banking and markets segments. It operates more than 240 bank branches throughout the United States. There are over 155 in New York State as well as branches in: California; Connecticut; Delaware; Washington, D.C.; Florida; Maryland; New Jersey; Pennsylvania; Oregon; Virginia; and Washington State. HSBC Bank USA, N.A. is the principal subsidiary of HSBC USA Inc., an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of HSBC North America Holdings Inc. HSBC Bank USA, N.A. is a member of the FDIC.

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