Business Traveller: Local money will avoid fee sting
IRISH companies doing business in Asia should start to trade directly in local currencies to avoid unnecessary fees associated with dollar trading, a foreign exchange firm has warned.
Irish businesses often trade in Asia using the US dollar. But the dollar, Clear Currency said, will probably gain in comparison to emerging market currencies this year as the US Federal Reserve reduces its economic stimulus programme. This means it will be cheaper to trade directly in Asian currencies like the Chinese Remenbi or Japanese Yen than in dollars, the company said.
"Traditionally, Irish businesses trading in Asia would buy and sell goods in US dollars," said Clear Currency's head of trading Peter O'Flanagan. "However with the USD set to appreciate in 2014, even against the euro, this may become an expensive way of doing business."
Asian companies will also often give discounts to trading partners who settle in the local currency.
"A HSBC survey in China outlined that more than half (53pc) of Chinese businesses surveyed would offer a discount of up to 5pc for transaction settled in Renminbi," Mr O'Flanagan added, "and this is something we've experienced throughout the Asia region."
An Irish business changing €50,000 per month into Asian currencies, he estimated, could save itself as much as €30,000 a year by starting to trade directly in local currencies.
Asia is an increasingly important trading partner for Irish companies with over €2bn of Irish goods and services exported to India and China in 2012.
TUMMY BUGS UPSET PLANS
THE TROPICAL Medical Bureau, which provides travel vaccines and advice, has warned that it is seeing increasing numbers of business travellers forced to abandon plans because of avoidable illnesses. Stomach bugs, it said, were the worst offenders.
"We frequently are asked to see returning business travellers who have had their work schedule overseas completely ruined due to a gastrointestinal illness" said Dr Graham Fry, the Travel Medical Bureau's medical director. "In many cases this could have been easily avoided with correct advice and vaccination."
Flu is also a risk. "Exposure to the more severe forms of influenza is another serious risk for those with an extensive and regular travel itinerary," he said. "The rapid onset of this disease can mean that a business traveller is very quickly incapable of performing their duties while travelling. This clearly affects them personally but also can be seriously detrimental for their business."
If travelling is a key element of your job, then you need to ensure that nothing prevents you from being able to do so – and that includes guarding oneself against the weird and wonderful diseases that plague some parts of the world.
As well as keeping up to date with vaccinations, it's always wise to travel with basic medical supplies like painkiller and rehydration powders.
AIR TICKET JUST THE BUSINESS
SEVERAL airlines have announced seat sales that may be of interest to business travellers. Aer Lingus is currently offering flights to and from North America from €239 each way, available until Sunday February 2 for travel from April 1 to June 15. Flights on offer include new Aer Lingus routes connecting Dublin directly with San Francisco and Toronto, which launch in April. The airline is also expanding its Boston and New York schedule from Shannon Airport.
Scandinavian Airlines, meanwhile, has just announced details of a special reduced business class return fare from Dublin to Bangkok. The ticket to and from Bangkok, which welcomes more visitors every year than any other city in the world, is priced from €1,892 per person return. It's available on the company's website until March 30.