Asia Pacific (APAC) is a region in flux. In 2018, businesses must contend with numerous challenges, not limited to environmental risks and an ageing population. But with disruption comes great opportunity.
APAC remains the most dynamic region in the world in 2018.(i) Expected to grow by 5.5% this year, the region is set to account for almost two-thirds of global growth, with strong GDP projections of 5.6% continuing into 2019.(ii)
Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR) also signifies sustained business leader optimism in the region. Net optimism sits at net 55% in Q2 2018, up 27pp from Q2 2017. ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is a particularly bright spot. At net 64%, business optimism in ASEAN has reached a record high against healthy projected growth of more than 5% each year between now and 2022.(iii)
What are the trends and opportunities for businesses at the heart of this buoyant landscape?
Firstly, automation. Businesses across the region have an appetite for new technologies. One in three (34%) firms believe the automation of simple business processes, to free up workers for higher value-add tasks, is the biggest opportunity for APAC over the next five years. This is up 8pp from 26% in Q1 2018.
Simultaneously, improving infrastructure has emerged as a source of real opportunity in ASEAN. Upgrading local infrastructure is cited as the biggest opportunity for APAC by 42% of business leaders, and will be aided by newfound economic cooperation in the region following the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.
This landscape, though, is not without challenges. Ageing populations, a risk felt across the globe, is seen as the biggest threat for the next five years by APAC businesses. Furthermore, the ASEAN region stands to be disproportionately impacted by environmental challenges, with four of the top ten countries worldwide affected by climate change situated in South East Asia alone.(iv)
How can businesses sustain their growth and positive outlook in the face of disruption? The insights on this page provide practical recommendations for businesses navigating a complex but vibrant economic landscape.
If you would like to know more about how we can help you in Asia Pacific or around the world, connect to your local Grant Thornton member firm.