Businesses believe that problems in global supply chains, stemming from the pandemic and exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, will be the main threat to world trade in 2023.
This is reflected in a survey published today and carried out by Eurochambres among its members – European chambers of commerce – and trade promotion organizations from the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Korea, Singapore, Australia, Asia-Pacific and the Gulf, regions that – they point out – they represent 70% of world GDP.
“Countless factors jeopardize the necessary flow of goods and services across international borders (…). Once again, supply chain difficulties rank as the biggest threat to global trade,” the report states.
The pandemic disrupted the supply of raw materials and finished products and magnified already existing vulnerabilities, such as export restrictions or the concentration of production in just a few countries, and the war has worsened the situation, they explain.
To solve these problems, the companies are betting above all on making use of the international commercial system, but they also ask the governments for incentives in the form of subsidies or tax discounts so that the chains are installed in the country itself or closer to it, as well as to diversify them.
Most consider some type of public policy necessary to guarantee the security of supplies and, in particular, the European chambers of commerce are committed to states investing in strategic sectors and providing financing to help companies monitor and strengthen their supply chains. .
On the other hand, those surveyed also mentioned the use of trade as a political weapon, the inability to find multilateral solutions and the increase in protectionism –the main concern in the US and China– as threats.
Regarding the global economic situation, “the business community once again predicts a difficult year” due to the war in Ukraine, problems in the energy market and the repercussions of the pandemic.
Most expect a drop in business confidence in their region and identify geopolitical tensions and inflation as the main challenges in 2023, followed by the tightening of financing conditions, supply problems and energy security.
In the energy chapter, which is of particular concern to European firms, the impact of the increase in energy prices has been different depending on the region, but most companies fear a “significant” reduction in their investments due to the uncertain economic situation .
They worry, albeit to a lesser extent, that some industries will have to reduce or shut down production due to high prices or end up moving to locations where energy is cheaper.
“For European companies, the environment continues to be extremely difficult,” the president of Eurochambres, Luc Frieden, told Efe, who attributes it to energy prices, supply problems and uncertainty to invest.
He believes that the measures adopted by the EU and the countries to cushion fuel prices “go in the right direction, but they are still not enough”, and advocates joint energy purchases between the 27 partners and the signing of agreements with third countries to obtain energy at an “acceptable price”.
“Next winter will still be difficult, so diversification, investment in renewables and acceleration of permits for renewable production facilities must continue,” he says.