Wed, Jul 23, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Asian SMEs optimistic on second-half outlook: poll

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Despite the global economic slowdown, 60 percent of Asia’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) — especially those in India and Taiwan — were optimistic about the region’s economic prospects in the second half of the year, a survey released by HSBC yesterday showed.

Among the 3,000 Asian SMEs covered in the survey, more than 75 percent of the 300 firms polled in India were upbeat about the nation’s economic outlook in the next six months, followed by those in China and Taiwan.

“As a result of robust exports and healthy domestic demand, SMEs in Asia continue to perform well,” Margaret Leung (梁高美懿), general manager of HSBC’s global commercial banking division, said in a media statement.

The HSBC poll was conducted in May in 10 Asian-Pacific countries. Since then, Taiwan’s stock markets have been sliding as inflationary pressure and the global credit crisis weighed on investor sentiment.

The benchmark TAIEX has declined by 21.18 percent since the beginning of May to close at 7,065.65 points yesterday in Taipei, the Taiwan Stock Exchange’s data showed.

At the time the survey was conducted, some 27 percent — up from 13 percent late last year — of the 300 Taiwanese SMEs polled said they believed the local economy would accelerate in the next six months.

About 28 percent of the Taiwanese respondents said they would increase investments, while the majority — or 51 percent — said they had no intention of raising investments.

In addition, 83 percent of Taiwanese firms said they had no plans to recruit new staff, while 14 percent said they planned to hire new employees, the survey showed. These compare with an average of 74 percent of SMEs in Asia that planned to recruit new employees.

The survey also showed that Vietnamese SMEs were bearish about foreign trade, while those in South Korea were pessimistic about business prospects in light of economic and political instability since late last year.

SMEs in Singapore and Indonesia were the least pessimistic about the economic prospects in their respective countries, the survey concluded.

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