According to the largest regular economic survey of accountants in the world conducted by ACCA and IMA (Institute of Management Accountants), businesses in Singapore continued to be pessimistic about their future prospects at the end of last year.
Around 66% of Singaporean firms said that they had become less confident about their prospects over the preceding three months, compared with 44% globally.
As a result of the close trade and financial links with China, businesses in Singapore are unsurprisingly struggling for new orders. Nearly two thirds (65%) of firms reported a drop in profitable opportunities in Q4, while 38% said that they were concerned about falling orders, compared with 25% globally.
How did the rest of the world fare?
We broke down the rest of the key findings for your convenience.
The rest of the world: Bottom lines squeezed, difficulties in accessing finance
- Falling income is the biggest concern for global businesses. Nearly half of businesses (46%) reported a decline in earnings in the fourth quarter of 2015, up from 41% in Q3.
- Businesses not only reported a fall in income, but also more difficulty in accessing finance, with half of business cutting their workforce or putting a recruitment freeze in place and 40% saying they had cut back investment plans since the third quarter of 2015.
- Confidence remained especially weak in emerging economies. China’s slowdown is affecting business confidence around the rest of the world and is contributing to serious problems in other major emerging economies, especially those that rely on commodity exports, such as Brazil and Russia.
- As the price of oil continues to tumble, the producers that were relatively well prepared for a drop in energy prices, like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are now facing weaker growth as governments turn their attention to repairing their finances. Over 60% of respondents in the region reported they had cut back on investment and employment.
- Businesses in OECD economies are more upbeat. Most advanced economies are net importers of energy, and so have benefitted from declines in oil prices. The US economy continues to perform relatively well, even if business confidence was undermined last quarter by the strength of the US dollar and the prospect of a rate hike.
- The most significant improvement in business confidence was in the eurozone, where the risk of a near-term break-up of the currency area has faded into the distance after the latest Greek bailout.
- Rising costs were still a problem, with 40% of businesses reporting concerns. While commodity prices have fallen, firms in many parts of the world, particularly Asia and Africa, are still having to deal with rapidly rising wages.
The survey report also dives into the results of selected countries such as: the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Russia, Pakistan, China, Australia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, Mauritius, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago.
To download the full survey report, please click here.