Atradius Payment Practices Barometer survey shows scale of business stress as experts warn there may be worse to come
According to the latest edition of the Atradius Payment Practices Barometer for Asia, 50% of all B2B credit sales in the region are overdue. Many businesses polled in the region are feeling the pinch of the global pandemic recession. Around 40% of the survey respondents are pessimistic about the outlook for their Days Sales Outstanding (DSO), and 25% express concern over their liquidity levels as the pandemic continues across Asia.
Overall, 40% of the suppliers polled in Asia reported an increase in late payment from their B2B customers over the past year, though in a region as vast and varied as Asia there are individual differences amongst the markets surveyed. 48% of respondents (with Indonesia the highest at 60%) indicated that they had to take corrective measures to reduce the impact of payment defaults on their business. These included delaying payment to their own suppliers (40% of respondents, with United Arab Emirates the highest at 47%). 31% of respondents (with Hong Kong the highest at 37%) needed to pursue additional external financing to pay their own creditors. This may explain why 25% of businesses polled in Asia (with Singapore the highest at 32%) expressed concern about maintaining adequate cash flow over the coming months.
However, this year’s survey results also highlight that business confidence across the region is mainly upbeat. This is driven by a general anticipation of a rebound of domestic economies, which in turn depends on the pace of the vaccine rollout in the individual countries to resolve the pandemic crisis.
As Andreas Tesch, Chief Market Officer of Atradius explains: “The annual Payment Practices Barometer survey takes the temperature of markets throughout the world. Trends such as year-on-year increases in DSO can be an early warning sign of an industry under stress. Although the world economy looks set for recovery in 2021, important risks remain. The recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases in many parts of Asia is likely to pose a threat to short-term economic recovery in this region. Therefore, predicting future developments in the business and trade environments in the region’s major economies is still quite challenging. There are, however, some positive signs that help us understand that the coming months may be brighter.”
Eric den Boogert, Atradius Managing Director for Asia, adds: “The overall optimistic business sentiment and anticipation of increased use of trade credit show a strong business confidence in the ability of most governments to minimise the impact of the pandemic crisis on the economy. Having said that, we don’t expect the overdue trends to recover quickly and respondents' concerns about further deterioration of DSO remain valid. Businesses’ credit management processes will be put to the test, and those companies that adopt a holistic and flexible credit management approach will be best positioned to navigate through this uncertain period.”
The 2021 Atradius Payment Practices Barometer for Asia was conducted in Q2 2021, a full year after the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Markets surveyed were mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates.