Hong Kong SMEs Emerge as the Second Largest Exporters Among Their Worldwide Peers

SMEs that Go Global Are More Likely to Achieve Double-Digit Growth


HONG KONG, November 10, 2015 — In Hong Kong, 50% of small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) are currently exporting, well above the regional and global averages of 36% and 38%, according to a new global research study*. On average, these SMEs export close to US$2.6 million worth of goods a year, second only to their Taiwan counterparts with US$2.8 million and far higher than the regional and global averages of US$1.8 million and US$1.5 million. Strikingly, SMEs that export are 1.7 times more likely to be experiencing growth of 11% or more than their non-exporting counterparts.

Commissioned by FedEx Express (FedEx), the world’s largest express transportation company and a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX), the independent research study* was conducted by Harris Interactive to provide insights into global import and export behavior among SMEs and the challenges they face. Completed in September 2015, the study interviewed about 500 senior executives of Hong Kong SMEs, among a total of 6,891 globally in 13 markets[1] including six in Asia Pacific.

“At FedEx, we see the huge potential in small businesses, and the increasing number of small players in the global trade scene are the best demonstration of that,” said Anthony Leung, managing director, FedEx Express, Hong Kong and Macau. “The research study is one of the many ways that we look at how to better our services to help small businesses unleash their potential. After all, supporting small businesses to expand into international markets will not only benefit the businesses themselves, but also the health of national economies where SMEs are a major driving force.”

While world markets represent a huge opportunity, many SMEs are still hesitant about taking the plunge and branching out into the global arena. Although 76% of SMEs in Hong Kong recognize there is a whole world of customers out there, only 50% – a much lower proportion – are currently exporting.

This suggests that, even though SMEs see the potential of exporting, they are not confident in their chances of translating that potential into business success. One of the reasons for this seems to be a lack of advice and support: only 11% of the city’s SMEs feel that they already have sufficient support to succeed in international markets.

To tackle this confidence gap, logistics plays a critical role. In Hong Kong, SMEs surveyed say that logistics service providers are one of their top sources of expertise on exporting. Other sources include information from the Internet and the media, as well as industry trade bodies.

“When it comes to expanding internationally, logistics has an important role to play,” said Leung. “From shipping to packaging to customs clearance, a reliable logistics service provider is here to help businesses of all sizes with every aspect of the shipping process, so that they can concentrate on exploring new opportunities for their business. Faced with ever-increasing customer expectations, the importance of logistics should not be overlooked as it is one of the crucial elements in shaping the experience that SMEs offer to their customers.”

Looking ahead, SMEs are optimistic about the prospect of exporting internationally despite the perceived barriers today. Some 66% of the territory’s SMEs anticipate they will be doing so by 2020, a 16-percentage-point increase from the current level and higher than the regional and global averages of 52% and 55%. They are also positive about their international business growth: 54% believe they will be reaping greater revenues from overseas business within five years.

* “Global Opportunities: Examining Import and Export Trends Among Small Businesses”, a commissioned research study conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of FedEx, September 2015.

About the research study

Harris Interactive carried out 6,891 interviews with senior executives in SMEs in 13 markets[2] spanning four global regions. Completed in September 2015, interviews were split equally by country with a representative mix of company sizes: micro (1-9 full-time employees), small (10-49 full-time employees) and medium (50-249 full-time employees). The sample size was approximately 500 respondents per market.

[1] Brazil, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Spain and Taiwan

[2] Brazil, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Spain and Taiwan