JEDDAH — Despite the overall fragile global economy, markets in the Middle East, the Americas, and Africa will continue to lead the recovery, as they have for the last nine months, the 14th edition of the "Global Economic Conditions Survey" undertaken by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA (the Institute of Management Accountants), released Wednesday said.
In relative terms the best performer was the Middle East, where confidence losses were negligible, with Africa a distant second.
The global survey of 2,700 professional accountants, now well into its third year, suggests that hints of a stronger recovery in early 2012 were mostly down to misplaced optimism, and that most of the gains made at the time have since been reversed.
Among the markets that were well-represented in the ACCA/IMA sample, the UAE remained the most confident, with 35 percent of respondents here reporting confidence gains (down from 42 percent) against 27 percent reporting losses (up from 23 percent).
While the overall loss of momentum is consistent with global trends, the UAE recorded net confidence gains in the second quarter of 2012.
Positive attitudes toward the global economy are also more resilient in the UAE than elsewhere, with 46 percent of respondents thinking the recovery is on track, down from 53 percent.
Among the markets best represented in the report, respondents in Cyprus and Hong Kong SAR remain the least confident, followed by their colleagues in Malaysia. The UAE was the only major market to report net confidence gains for a second consecutive quarter, although the US also followed closely with only a marginal loss.
The strongest indications of liquidity and demand stress are to be found in Ireland and Malaysia, where 29 percent and 23 percent of respondents respectively reported both falling revenues and poor access to finance. Ireland is an exception among the markets best represented in the sample, however, in that pressures appear to be stabilizing as the country slowly recovers from the shocks of a financial crisis and sharp fiscal adjustment.
In Malaysia, on the other hand, pressure has been mounting on businesses for the last three quarters.
Among the major regions, markets in Africa, Western Europe and South Asia are currently the most affected. Among the major ACCA/IMA markets, respondents from the US have been the most positive in this regard.
Encouragingly, 45 percent of all respondents still saw value-added opportunities for their organizations, down only marginally from 46 percent three months earlier and up from 42 percent in the beginning of the year.
In terms of the business environment, the second quarter of 2012 saw a part-reversal of the improvements of the previous quarter. However, while new orders and employment have not fallen below the levels seen in late 2011, investment has taken a blow and our readings for both investment indices (in both tangible and human capital) are now below their late 2011 levels as ease of financing has tightened once again. — SG/QJM