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Why knowledge is critical for Australian businesses entering Asian markets 

Australia’s trade relationship with Southeast Asia is flourishing, surpassing established partnerships with the US and EU.

However, a new report by Asialink Business, a leader in Asian market expertise, warns that Australian businesses must prioritize understanding the region’s nuances to truly capitalize on this growth.

Asialink Business Chief Executive Leigh Howard, one of Australia’s leading voices on international business relations, says there’s been a spike in the number of medium-sized businesses and SMEs seeking on-the-ground knowledge and tailored market entry strategies to expand trade opportunities into the lucrative Asian market.

“Asia is the fastest growing region globally, and Australia has a unique economic advantage thanks to our geographic proximity, abundance of natural resources, and education and research credentials, but we need to complement this with knowledge of Asian markets to be able to tap the best commercial outcomes,” Mr Howard says.

“There is a growing affluent class across Asia, and those markets continue to steam ahead in terms of their economic progress and development and there’s a lot businesses can do to maximise success in the region,” he says.

Mr Howard warns businesses need to be Asia-capable to increase their chances of securing tangible and measurable results.

“Without sufficient investment in understanding the markets, the danger is that businesses will achieve substandard outcomes – or no outcomes at all. Being under-prepared and learning how to do business after you’ve arrived quickly makes a market visit an expensive endeavour,” he says.

“Just because it’s not without risk doesn’t mean it’s risky. We have governments opening doors through trade partnerships and committing funds, and businesses should be making the most of those opportunities,” Mr Howard says.

The Australian government has pledged $2 billion for the Southeast Asia investment financing facility, which will provide loans, guarantees, equity, and insurance to increase Australian trade and investment in Southeast Asia, with a focus on clean energy and infrastructure.

“Engaging confidently and effectively with Asia is essential to our prosperity and overall stability,” Mr Howard says.

Australia’s two-way trade with Southeast Asia currently tops $185bn per annum, surpassing our trade figures with Japan, the US, and the EU.

Mr Howard believes opportunities in Asia are being under-capitalised, with too many Australian business leaders being complacent. 

“Only a quarter of Australia’s 56,000 exporters send goods to the region, and that’s a surprising statistic considering as a bloc, Southeast Asia is our second largest trading partner overall,” he says. “Government figures show that 250 exporters make up 90% of our goods exports to the region – which means there is a lot of potential upside for Australian businesses.” 

For more than a decade, Asialink Business has helped design strategies and programs to support Australian businesses to grow in Asia. 

“We have a national mandate to develop an Asia-capable workforce through market-leading expertise to help Australian businesses find success in the region.”

“We help businesses assess, identify and then prioritise the right market with a tailored market entry strategy, including due diligence, so businesses can execute their strategy with confidence. This is complemented with a range of freely available resources.”

“Our team of Asia experts design and deliver tailored and practical training to support individuals and organisations to achieve their aspirations within these markets, whether it’s Vietnam, Indonesia, India, China or Malaysia.

“Our proven Asia capability framework is based on extensive research and direct insights into the unique challenges and opportunities faced by Australian organisations entering or expanding into Asia.

“We are championing Australian businesses and looking out for their interests in Asia. We have many success stories due to their preparedness to go into the region engaged, with sound local knowledge and research.”

Over the last decade, Asialink Business has helped more than 100,000 people via its learning programs, events and resources focused on doing business in Asia.

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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