FedEx Express’ annual APAC SME Research Report has revealed that small businesses in
Asia are using technology to drive exports worldwide. For the first time, the proportion of
SMEs that export beyond Asia exceeds the proportion who export only to countries within
Overall, the number of SMEs exporting beyond Asia is up 254% over four years. Trade
within the region now accounts for more than half (53%) of export revenues, compared to
42% in 2016. Global exports have become more valuable too: the average annual revenue
generated by exports beyond the region is US$641,000 (S$876,375), 13% higher than the
comparable average value of exports within the region.
China has the highest proportion of exporting SMEs that sell to markets beyond Asia (83%),
closely followed by Malaysia (82%) and Vietnam (80%). Even in Japan, two-thirds of SMEs
that export sell their goods and services outside of Asia, up from under half (48%) in 2016.
Import patterns are shifting too, again trending toward globalization. Nearly half (46%) of
Asian SMEs are sourcing materials internationally. Among these SMEs, 68% import from
within APAC, while 62% import from other regions, up from just 26% three years ago.
Without extensive international resources and large export departments, Asian SMEs have
always been at a disadvantage in terms of global trade compared with their larger
counterparts. It’s not surprising that, until now, those SMEs that do export have targeted
primarily other Asian markets, where relatively short distances, common cultures and
traditional connections have created paths of least resistance.
Yet the emergence of new technologies and their widespread adoption by Asian SMEs have
undoubtedly played a leading role in making the world significantly smaller for SME
exporters, and international trade easier.
In the words of Karen Reddington, president, FedEx Express Asia Pacific, “For Asian SMEs,
the world is now truly their oyster.”