A second research study by Standard Chartered on the international growth strategies and challenges that CFOs and Treasurers in the US, the UK, Germany and France face indicate that, despite uncertainty caused by the global pandemic and its associated economic repercussions, overseas markets remain key to growth. The study also revealed incremental emphasis towards investing in digital technology, unlocking trapped cash and increased focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in relation to trade and supply chains.
Since the first study six months ago, respondents have indicated increased business confidence in growth across borders, where 42% (up from 37%) of companies see the best growth opportunities outside of their home markets.
Asia remains a major growth region (with over 85% operating and implementing in Asia or considering it for business activities). Africa and the Middle East also saw marginal increase (up 4%) as potential growth markets over the next six to twelve months. Despite the ambition to expand internationally, understanding the regulatory requirements in overseas markets remains the greatest obstacle (35%) for companies who are looking to expand or strengthen their international operations. This is followed by the need to build relationships with suppliers and adapt supply chain logistics (21%).
As companies look ahead into a post pandemic environment, the respondents’ top three priorities have indicated slight shifts away from issues including supply chain failure (down 2% to 50%) and the need for liquidity (down 2% to 47%) to an increase in investing in digitisation to mobilise liquidity (up 4% to 66%) and ESG (up 5% to 23%).
Torry Berntsen, CEO of Europe and Americas, Standard Chartered, said: “It is apparent that businesses are beginning to pay greater attention to overseas growth and investing for the future. Sustainability, digitisation, and the need to understand regulation are not just key to how business will be conducted, they are also opportunities for companies to increase operational efficiency, grow internationally and stay ahead of the competition.”
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