Businesspeople from the U.S. spend more on work-related travel than corporate travelers from any other country in the world, but Chinese business-travel spending is expected to overtake the U.S. in the near future, according to a new report from the Global Business Travel Association.

With email, phone and video conferencing, and considering the time and expense required to travel, it may be tempting to stay chained to your desk. But there’s no replacing the connection of sharing a meal with a client, shaking hands and talking eye to eye. In the coming years, U.S. entrepreneurs may have to spend more time on planes headed East to stay competitive.

In 2012, professionals in the U.S. spent $262 billion on business travel, including both domestic and international trips, according to a report from the business travel and corporate meetings organization GBTA, released today. While that’s more than the $196 billion Chinese business travelers spent last year, business-travel spending in China grew 13.2 percent -- three times the 4.4 percent growth rate in the U.S. By 2016, Chinese business travelers are expected to spend more than those from the U.S., according to the report.

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In the coming years, the GBTA also expects India and Brazil to become increasingly aggressive when it comes to packing a suitcase and hitting the road. And while business travel in Western Europe has been on the slower side, as Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece have struggled with crippling debt, the GBTA says the worst is over and expects business travel in those regions to begin picking up.

Based on the GBTA study of 75 countries, here’s a look at the top 15 by total business-travel spending in 2012, with percentage growth from the previous year:

1. U.S., $262 billion, 4.4%
2. China, $196 billion,13.2%
3. Japan, $65.2 billion, -1.2%
4. Germany, $50.5 billion, 1.1%
5. U.K., $40.2 billion, 0.1%
6. France, $35.7 billion, -2.1%
7. Italy, $32.7 billion, -7.5%
8. South Korea, $30.5 billion, 2.8%
9. Brazil, $30.1 billion, 9.3%
10. India, $22.1 billion, 5.8%
11. Canada, $22.0 billion, 1.4%
12. Australia, $21.1 billion, 2.8%
13. Russia, $20.4 billion, 2.6%
14. Spain, $17.9 billion, -8.0%
15. Netherlands, $17.8 billion, -4.5%

How does your business decide it’s worth it to spend money on international travel? Where do you go the most? Leave a note below, and let us know what you think. 

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