More Connecticut companies are exporting, a trend that's helping businesses weather the state's indifferent economic recovery.

"Ninety-five percent of the world’s population lives outside our borders; exporting to them is now a key part of doing business," said HSBC vice president and senior regional trade manager Andrea Ratay at today's release of CBIA's 2013 International Trade Survey of Connecticut Businesses.

In March and April, CBIA—in partnership with sponsors HSBC and McGladrey—surveyed 1,188 Connecticut businesses most likely to be involved in exporting.

Nearly three-quarters (71%) said they are engaged in international trade, up 36 percentage points from 2007.

Surviving the recession

More than half (56%) said their exporting activities helped them weather the recession and better position themselves for recovery.

The largest foreign markets for Connecticut companies surveyed are, in order, North America (Canada/Mexico), western Europe, and northern Asia/Pacific Rim—China, Japan, and Taiwan.

But business owners surveyed expect that distribution to shift over the next three years, putting northern Asia in the top spot. Economists agree.

“Japan is about to double the size of its monetary base,” said Jose Rasco, senior vice president of HSBC Private Bank.

“We used to export a lot to Europe, but now we’re exporting more to Latin America and emerging Asia—and not just China, but other areas of Asia,” he said.


According to the survey, over a quarter (27%) of those companies not engaged in foreign trade would like to be, and 23% believe their current staff capacity would make it possible.

“This year’s results show greater interest and involvement in international trade among Connecticut companies,” said CBIA economist Pete Gioia.

“But they also point to cost constraints and a need for more information and awareness about export assistance, trade agreements, and foreign markets.

"These are areas where government agencies, along with international trade consultants, can really help.”

He added that the majority of Connecticut exporters are not new to international trade but could use help expanding into new areas.

“We need to concentrate on some of the veterans in exporting,” said Gioia, “and help them export more, and to more places.”