HSBC Birmingham area commercial director Adrian Gill has urged businesses in the city to take advantage of the 'tipping point' set to take place in international trade over the next five years.
HSBC Commercial Bank is forecasting a tipping point in the balance of trade power where imports will grow faster than exports in 'emerging' markets by 2017.
HSBC's Global Connections Trade Forecast predicts that the rate of growth in imports will exceed exports in markets including China, India and Brazil.
The report also forecasts that the UK is set to increase its international business activity by 66 per cent by 2026. For the UK, exports are expected to exceed imports as businesses make the most of the opportunities created by the subsequent increase in demand for goods and services from emerging markets.
Government figures show that the West Midlands is one of the UK's key exporting centres, with exports growing 11.7 per cent to pounds 20.7 billion in the year to the end of March.
Emerging markets also play a crucial role in the West Midlands exports, with China recently overtaking Germany as the region's second largest export partner.
Mr Gill said: "Emerging economies that have traditionally been major exporters have seen imports increase in recent years as their economies have matured.
"We have seen a rising middle class in the likes of China and India and this naturally creates demand for goods and services.
"The West Midlands in particular has strong links with these economies and over half of our exports by value go to non-EU countries.
"Taking advantage of overseas opportunities can offer Birmingham businesses significant prospects for growth.
"We work with some great companies that have made successful …