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Northeast Asia

China banking: Opportunity knocks – so does risk

China's banking sector faces a tough year, but 2019 might also offer great opportunities for foreign banks.

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You only have to read the headlines on the research reports coming out of Asia to get a sense of the mood – and it’s sombre.

“Always darkest before the dawn” (Nomura). “Steadying the ship in a stormy world” (BNP Paribas). “Navigating uncertainty” (Fidelity). “Declining growth premium” (Deutsche Bank). “Navigating the macro minefield” (Goldman Sachs).

US-China trade disputes, a quixotic US president, and Brexit chaos may cloud the big picture, but in Asia there are several local factors adding to the feeling of uncertainty, ranging from a slowing Chinese economy to elections in Indonesia and India and potential disruptions to trade.

For banks in the region, though, the outlook isn’t all bad. 

If the trade war intensifies, there is work to be done on re-routing supply chains through other markets such as Vietnam. 

If, as those like DBS economist Taimur Baig argue, the Indian and Indonesian elections bring clarity and more settled markets, the banks will be able to get on with underwriting deals in the aftermath. 

If the uncertain macro environment leads to currency volatility, banks can provide hedging solutions for their corporate clients.

Danger

China gets many negative headlines right now, and it faces a tough year.


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