1 December 2020

A renewed outlook: Canadian businesses ready for next evolution in trade

The resurgence of COVID-19 is seen as the primary threat to growth and recovery by all businesses followed by reduced consumer demand and supply chain disruptions, according to a new HSBC survey. While almost half of Canadian businesses are considering cost-cutting strategies, survey respondents indicated that the future lies in workplace upskilling and expansion into new markets.

The HSBC Navigator report, which surveyed businesses in 39 markets, including 501 in Canada between September 11 and October 7 revealed that:

  • Two thirds (67%) of Canadian companies expect international trade over the next 1-2 years to have a positive impact with companies based in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces leading this trend (both 77%)
  • Over the next 3 to 5 years, respondents expect intra-regional trade to decrease (44% from 53% in 2019), while the share of trade with Europe is expected to increase to 32% compared to 22% in 2019.
  • More than one-third of businesses in Atlantic provinces, Quebec and British Columbia see Europe in their top three markets for expansion, with the United Kingdom seen as the most attractive.

“Clearly the pandemic is not dampening enthusiasm for exploring further trade opportunities outside of Canada,” said Pete Molenaar, Senior Vice President and Head of Commercial Banking, Western Canada at HSBC Bank Canada. “As Canadian businesses continue to respond to shifting needs, they recognize the benefits of international trade for their business and broader society.”

Along with the anticipated increase in business with European markets, Canadian companies are eying opportunities with markets in Asia and Latin America. HSBC’s Navigator: Growing with China from early November reveals close to three quarters (73%) of Canadian companies expect their sales in China to grow over the next two years: it continues to be a target destination market and key player in Canadian supply chains. While fears over broken supply chains have Canadians looking closer to home, 77% (consistent with three-quarters of all companies globally) also noted an expected increase in proportion of their supply chains based in China over the next two years.

Amid the pandemic, the majority of Canadian businesses are remaining agile, savvy and innovative with an eye on the future. Six-in-10 Canadian businesses intend to increase their overall financial investment in their business in the next year, with a greater focus on environmental and ethical sustainability. Furthermore, companies in Quebec and Ontario are keen on increasing investment in technology.

“Promoting employee well-being and enabling new ways of working, with a sharp focus on the customer experience, will be key to a sustainable and healthy recovery” added Molenaar. “There’s no question the economy will be scarred by higher unemployment in the short term, however as businesses shift focus on long-term growth and expansion in local and international markets, they have a chance to come out even stronger.”

Looking ahead, in line with global sentiment, seven in ten Canadian businesses expect to return to pre-COVID levels of profitability by the end of 2022, and just over one in ten (11%) are already ahead of their own pre-COVID levels.

The full report can be accessed here: https://www.business.hsbc.ca/en-ca/future-of-business/resilience

Media enquiries to:

Pascal Dessureault at (416) 673-6997 or pascal.dessureault@hsbc.ca

Sharon Wilks at (416) 868-3878 or sharon_wilks@hsbc.ca

Note to editors:

HSBC Navigator

The HSBC Navigator survey, which is the largest of its kind, is conducted on behalf of HSBC by Kantar. The study gauges sentiment and expectations of businesses in the near to mid-term future on topics including: business outlook, future strategy, international trade, supply chains and sustainability. It is compiled from responses by decision-makers at 10,368 businesses – from small and mid-market to large corporations – across a broad range of industry sectors in 39 markets across North America, including Canada, South America, Europe, Asia Pacific, MENA and South Africa. The survey was conducted between September 11 and October 7, 2020.

HSBC Commercial Banking

For over 150 years we have been where the growth is, connecting customers to opportunities. Today, HSBC Commercial Banking serves around 1.4 million customers across 53 markets, ranging from small enterprises focused primarily on their home markets through to corporates operating across borders. Whether it is working capital, term loans, trade finance or payments and cash management solutions, we provide the tools and expertise that businesses need to thrive. As the cornerstone of the HSBC Group, we give businesses access to a geographic network covering more than 90% of global trade and capital flows. For more information visit: http://www.hsbc.com/about-hsbc/structure-and-network/commercial-banking

HSBC Bank Canada

HSBC Bank Canada, a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc, is the leading international bank in the country. We help companies and individuals across Canada to do business and manage their finances internationally through three global business lines: Commercial Banking, Global Banking and Markets, and Wealth and Personal Banking. HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC, is headquartered in London. HSBC serves customers worldwide from offices in 64 countries and territories its geographical regions: Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, and Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,956bn at 30 September 2020, HSBC is one of the world's largest banking and financial services organizations.