Australia’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 57% of national GDP and employ 67% of the workforce. Yet only 7% of this cohort are engaged in international trade as exporters and just 7% as importers1. That means the vast majority haven’t tapped into the vast opportunities in Asia1.

Capitalising on the Asian Century

It is predicted that Asia will account for more than 50% of the global middle-class consumption market by 20302. If Australia’s SMEs miss that opportunity, it will be a huge loss for the broader economy.

That is why we are delighted to partner with Asialink Business to publish “Growing with Asia” discussion paper which seeks to help Australian businesses make the most of the opportunity. The paper is based on case studies and a review of international business literature, as well as drawing on interviews with Australian business owners and leaders who have successfully tapped into business opportunities Asia has to offer.

Key Asia capabilities

The paper has identified four capabilities that all Australian SMEs must develop to grow with Asia by linking with offshore value chains and building long-term relationships overseas. These are:

  • Sophisticated knowledge and experience of Asian markets
  • Extensive operating experience in Asia
  • Long-term trusted relationships in Asia
  • The ability to adapt behaviour to Asian cultural contexts

Additionally, medium-sized businesses competing with more sophisticated organisations for larger opportunities also need:

  • Leadership that is committed to an Asia-focus strategy
  • Customised offering or value proposition that is derived from customer insights

Asia holds huge potential to Australian businesses that are prepared to do the necessary research into the markets, culture, ways of doing business and potential partners. Those companies that do, and can adapt their offering accordingly, are most likely to develop a strong competitive advantage. I hope the discussion paper helps you to take the first steps.

Jonathan Yeung
Head of Asian Business Banking
Business and Private Bank
Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Things you should know

1Growing with Asia, page ii

2Growing with Asia, page 2

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. As this information has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs, you should, before acting on this, consider the appropriateness to your circumstances.