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Globalisation is not dead, contrary to recent claims. Nowhere is this more evident than in global trade, where high-growth trade corridors in Asia, Africa and the Middle East are set to outpace the global average by up to four percentage points. 

These regions will propel global trade from $21 trillion to $32.6 trillion by 2030, according to our new Future of Trade report.   

Intra-regional trade – particularly within ASEAN and East Asia – will be significant over the next decade, and high-growth routes will emerge between ASEAN and South Asia, and South Asia and Africa. Of the larger, longer-established players, China will remain a major contributor for both exports and imports, and Europe and the US will continue to be the largest destinations for Asian exports.

Are businesses prepared to capture the opportunities offered by these shifts? 

Almost half the global business leaders we spoke to are struggling with the impact of rising geopolitical tensions, tariffs, inflation, and energy prices. 

To overcome these challenges, multinationals will need to become more ‘multi’ national than ever, and build greater resilience and expand into these fast-growing nodes of global trade. 

This rebalancing of supply chains is already picking up speed, with businesses racing to connect to new centres of sourcing, manufacturing, and distribution. Our clients can take advantage of our network and tech-enabled banking solutions to finance their trade, sustainability and long-term expansion plans in these future centres of manufacturing and trade.

One advantage of emerging technologies in cross-border commerce is that they can make global trade more inclusive and sustainable, to the benefit of smaller businesses.  


Digital supply chain finance (SCF) is one area that could be transformational, since it helps SMEs access finance in developing markets, thereby enabling them to participate in global supply chains. Our research estimates that in the 13 markets studied, the adoption of digital SCF platforms could help companies diversify their suppliers and drive exports up by $791 billion. 

These platforms, which capture and process billions of data points, can also help large anchor companies to track ESG compliance across their entire supply chain. 

Our partnerships with China’s largest supply chain finance provider, Linklogis, and fintech working capital platform Taulia are already helping our clients and their suppliers achieve this extra level of granularity. Linklogis for example, allows us to provide financing down to the eleventh tier of client supply chains. 

In terms of real-world execution, much will still depend upon partnerships between governments, businesses and multilaterals, with policy incentives for businesses to enhance their ESG compliance and interoperability between markets to drive up the adoption of new technologies.

For instance, while almost 86% of business leaders agree that digital SCF solutions can improve access and efficiency in global trade – only 18% currently use them, mostly because of challenges such as interoperability and resource constraints. Incentives through finance and policy can be game-changing and help bridge the trade finance gap which currently stands at a massive $22 trillion. 

The next decade of global trade is set to be exciting, with a more diverse spectrum of critical participants driving flows; collaboration and technology may help to address the shortcomings of the current model to make it more inclusive and more sustainable.