A majority of finance executives in Asia/Australia who responded to a survey (84%, up from 58% last year), anticipate economic expansion over the next year.
The 2017 Global Business & Spending Outlook by American Express and Institutional Investor also reveals that optimism in Japan has rebounded (97% choosing substantial or modest economic expansion, nearly double 50% in 2016).
China has also seen a sharp rebound in optimism (87%, up from 58% in 2016), helping to buoy prospects across the region.
Australia has seen a rise in optimism as well (83%, up from 65% last year).
India has a less positive outlook, where optimism has eroded (77%, down from 86% last year).
India Predicts Greatest Increase in Hiring Regionally
On average, respondents in Asia/Australia expect to see hiring increase by 6% (compared to 8% last year).
Indian and Chinese companies plan the greatest increase in hiring (each, 7%), followed by Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore (each 6%) and Japan (5%).
Executives across Asia/Australia say their performance goals have been affected by difficulty in filling sales and marketing positions: Hong Kong (100%), China and Japan (each, 97%) and Australia and India (each, 83%).
In order to address their hiring challenges, companies in Australia (80%), China (ex-Hong Kong), Hong Kong, and India, (each, 63%) are particularly likely to make greater use of temporary or contract workers.
Companies in Japan (63%) are especially likely to move positions from overseas to domestic locations.
North America now has the most optimistic outlook on economic prospects worldwide. The percentage of respondents in North America anticipating substantial economic expansion is at its highest level (67%) for any region since the study began in 2008.
Canadian finance executives are nearly as optimistic about their economy as their American counterparts. Ninety-three percent of Canadian respondents expect either “substantial” or “modest” expansion, up from 63% last year. In the U.S., 95% of respondents anticipate “substantial” or “modest” growth, compared with 73% last year.
On average, North American respondents expect their companies’ planned levels of spending and investment for the coming year to increase by 9% (vs. 13% last year).
In Europe, expectations for economic expansion have declined year over year, with 33% of respondents expressing optimism, down from 62% in 2016.
The U.K. while most positive in the region, experienced the greatest drop in optimism, with one-third (33%, down from 75% in 2016) expecting economic expansion.
Optimism also eroded in Germany, where 30% of respondents anticipated economic growth (down from 57% last year), as well as in France (30%, down from 47% last year) and Russia (30%, down from 44% last year).
Uncertainty around Brexit’s knock-on effects and upcoming European elections likely underlie these results.
“After years of embracing a do-more-with-less mantra, many large and global companies are ready to shift into growth mode,” says Brendan Walsh, Executive Vice President, American Express Global Commercial Payments. “Companies are loosening their purse strings to take advantage of improved opportunities, while at the same time focusing on top-line growth, on continuing to improve profitability and on ensuring they remain competitive.”