Saturday 15 June 2019

Look east for new market opportunities

'With significant investment in APAC infrastructure, particularly in South East Asia and China, it’s too good an opportunity to miss' Stock image
'With significant investment in APAC infrastructure, particularly in South East Asia and China, it’s too good an opportunity to miss' Stock image

Tom Cusack

Irish exporters not considering the markets of the Asia Pacific region may be missing out on a major opportunity. That’s a fact that Ambition Asia Pacific, a major event taking place at Dublin’s Aviva stadium on June 13, aims to rectify.

The region, commonly known as APAC, includes markets such as China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, India and Australia. It is now one of the fastest-growing regions for Enterprise Ireland-backed companies.

The region is home to more than half of the world’s population and two of its three largest economies. Within a decade it will account for almost two-thirds of the world’s middle class and GDP growth across the region averages 6pc, compared with just 2pc in Europe and the United States.

What Ambition Asia Pacific will show Irish businesses is that, although these markets are distant, firms are not in fact blazing trails by focusing on them.

More than 600 Enterprise Ireland-supported companies already export to the region, between them adding €1bn in new exports there in the last five years alone.

It will also show that this is an opportunity that spans many of the sectors in which Ireland has a world-class reputation.

That includes aviation and travel technology, sectors that are already alert to the fact that, over the next two decades, half of the world’s air traffic growth will be driven by travel to, from or within, the APAC region.

Ireland is also a well-established fintech hub. Here too, APAC offers unprecedented opportunity from a growing middle class of eager and early adopters of new technologies, including in payments.

It isn’t just APAC consumers who have an appetite for fintech either. Its investors do too. In the past two years, fintech financing in Asia Pacific has surpassed that of North America and stands at four times that of Europe.

With fewer legacy systems to labour under, there is demand across the region to introduce innovative digital solutions for everything from banking to healthcare.

Education is another area in which Ireland excels, and in APAC demand is strong for English-speaking third-level education. If the UK leaves, Ireland will become the largest English-speaking education market in the EU.

Ireland has an exemplary record in global construction and engineering services too. With significant investment in APAC infrastructure, particularly in South East Asia and China, it’s too good an opportunity to miss.

Equally, Ireland’s agritech innovators offer an ideal recipe for markets in which growing middle classes are putting pressure on food production.

There are, of course, challenges. This is not a quick-win region, but one that is based on identifying and building relationships with strong local partners. It, therefore, requires time and resources, and ultimately boots on the ground.

Such challenges are more easily surmountable than you may think, not least because Irish businesses typically enter the market through Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

All are familiar places with strong Irish networks. There are more direct flights now too, including to Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Beijing.

Enterprise Ireland is playing its part to help businesses capitalise on this fast-growing opportunity, offering connections, market advice and funding supports.

This autumn will see trade missions to Japan, South Korea and China, as well as the opening of new offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Melbourne. This brings to 10 the number of teams Enterprise Ireland has on the ground in APAC.

A huge part of what we do is provide Irish exporters with practical information, ‘meet the buyer’ events, networking opportunities and the hard-won insights gained from experience that help ease your passage.

All of this will be in abundant evidence at Ambition Asia Pacific. If your business has ambitions in the region, you won’t want to miss it.

Ambition Asia Pacific takes place on June 13 at the Aviva Stadium Dublin.  Places are limited so register now at: www.enterprise-ireland.com/ambitionasiapacific                                                                        

Tom Cusack is regional director Asia Pacific at Enterprise Ireland

Irish Independent

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