It has been a nail-biting few months for American firms operating in Asia, and it’s been even more tense for companies whose bread and butter is trade with China.
Will the enormous progress of opening markets and pushing for the free flow of goods around the world falter? Could the years of working for an open global economy crumble despite all the hard work and effort?
These are huge questions which have become front and centre of discussions after decades of a major trend towards globalisation. Yet, even if global trade deals unravelled, businesses would struggle to quickly transform their strategies, especially after investing both time and money in markets around the globe, especially here in Asia.
Asia is the fastest-developing market for both goods and services. There is a rising middle class, fresh potential for large infrastructure projects stretching from Sri Lanka to Philippines, and a developing pipeline of opportunities for finance, law and technology firms.
Asia today accounts for about 60 per cent of the global economy, and American companies are heavily engaged across the region. There are over 1,400 US companies operating in Hong Kong alone.
Overall, 15,000 US companies are open for business across the region, and the value of investment in the region totalled US$620 billion in 2016.
Yet, ever since Donald Trump became US president and withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, US companies operating overseas have been nervously watching and waiting for the potentially earth-shattering impact of that move.
The worries remain as to what kind of trade framework will replace the TPP, but there have been a few welcome developments in the past month to ease some pain until a fresh plan is drafted.
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