So far, 2017 has been a tumultuous year for many. Last week, President Donald Trump announced that he would pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, which had set emissions targets for U.S. businesses. He has also vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which would impact the thousands of companies that manufacture or otherwise do business with major trading partners Mexico and Canada. Meanwhile, Britain has entered negotiations to exit the European Union--and the single market trade agreement it currently enjoys.
In spite of the political and economic unrest, research suggests that business leaders worldwide remain optimistic. The 2017 Ernst & Young Growth Barometer found that as many as 89 percent of those surveyed see growth opportunities in uncertainty. The London-based professional services firm polled more than 2,000 executives of middle-market companies--those with annual revenue from $1 million to $3 billion.
Indeed, the study found that most companies were not only unfazed by the regulatory ambiguity--they saw it as an opportunity.
"The global economic backdrop is much stronger than what the prevailing narrative has been telling us," Annette Kimmitt, head of the Ernst & Young global growth markets team, said in a statement. "Market leaders are not only attuned to uncertainty, but are seizing it to grow, disrupt other markets, and drive their own agendas."
To her point, U.K. middle-market businesses were among the most confident, with 26 percent of respondents anticipating growing by 11 to 25 percent this year. That's well ahead of the global economic growth forecast, which is just 3.4 percent, according to Ernst & Young. Meanwhile, in the U.S., 35 percent of the companies expect to see a modest economic uptick of 5 percent.
Of course, business leaders recognize that challenges remain. Around 20 percent noted that increased competition, for instance, is making it harder to achieve goals. Others (17 percent) recognized geopolitical instability as well as the availability of funding (12 percent) as headwinds.