Right time to get on board for Asi­a­pac op­por­tu­ni­ties

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE - Tom Cu­sack

“AL­WAYS lis­ten,” ad­vised Dicky Yip, non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Chi­nese in­sur­ance gi­ant Pin­gan and for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of HSBC China, dur­ing his key­note speech at Enterprise Ire­land’s Routes to Growth Asia Pa­cific, a ma­jor con­fer­ence which brought to­gether more than 400 Ir­ish and in­ter­na­tional busi­ness peo­ple to ex­plore ex­port op­por­tu­ni­ties in the re­gion.

“It takes time to un­der­stand each area’s cul­tural dif­fer­ences,” said Yip.

The in­au­gu­ral Routes to Growth Asia Pa­cific event of­fered a unique op­por­tu­nity for net­work­ing and peer-learn­ing to cur­rent and first­time ex­porters, with more than 100 po­ten­tial buy­ers trav­el­ling to at­tend. Enterprise Ire­land’s entire Asi­a­pac team as­sisted com­pa­nies with ex­port plans and on-the-ground ex­pe­ri­ence. Enterprise Ire­land also launched a se­ries of busi­ness guides to help com­pa­nies bet­ter pre­pare for mar­ket en­try.

Stretch­ing from Aus­tralia to In­dia and China, Asi­a­pac is home to half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion and two of its three big­gest economies. By 2025, it will ac­count for more than half of the world’s eco­nomic out­put. Sim­i­lar trends are ev­i­dent with growth rates, which range from 5pc to 9pc, com­pared to the 2pc-3pc global av­er­age.

More than 600 Ir­ish com­pa­nies are do­ing busi­ness in the re­gion, worth €2bn an­nu­ally. Ir­ish ex­ports more than dou­bled in the last five years since break­ing the €1bn mark in 2012, de­liv­er­ing dou­ble-digit growth for Enterprise Ire­land-sup­ported com­pa­nies in 2016.

As the sec­ond-fastest grow­ing re­gion for Enterprise Ire­land-backed com­pa­nies, a 50pc in­crease in ex­ports is tar­geted by 2020. Op­por­tu­ni­ties for Ir­ish busi­nesses in sec­tors in­clud­ing avi­a­tion, fin­tech, in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion, and con­struc­tion and en­gi­neer­ing are par­tic­u­larly promis­ing.

“Ire­land has emerged as one of the great­est global avi­a­tion hubs in re­cent times,” said Der­mot Man­nion, for­mer deputy chair­man of Royal Brunei Air­lines and for­mer Aer Lin­gus CEO. “That is hap­pen­ing at a time when Asia Pa­cific is far and away the fastest-grow­ing re­gion for avi­a­tion. Over the next 20 years the num­ber of air­craft go­ing into Asia Pa­cific will be equal to North Amer­ica and Europe com­bined. We are very well-po­si­tioned to take ad­van­tage of that.”

One ex­am­ple of Ir­ish suc­cess in the sec­tor is CAE Parc Avi­a­tion, which first be­gan do­ing busi­ness there al­most three decades ago. To­day 45pc of its world­wide busi­ness comes from Asian com­pa­nies. CAE Parc has seven of­fices spread across five Asi­a­pac coun­tries. “It’s a mas­sive mar­ket for us,” chief ex­ec­u­tive Frank Collins said.

Speak­ers rec­om­mended reach­ing out to Enterprise Ire­land for as­sis­tance and tap­ping into the Ir­ish di­as­pora.

“You need to get out there on the ground, so use Enterprise Ire­land and the Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs. There is al­ways some­one who can give you in­tro­duc­tions,” said Paul Costi­gan, chief sales and mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer at De­cawave.

Barry Napier, CEO of Cu­bic Tele­com, first dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­ity of en­ter­ing the re­gion with Enterprise Ire­land in 2010 and ben­e­fited from Ir­ish em­bassies in the re­gion. “Reg­u­la­tion is very dif­fer­ent in ev­ery mar­ket. A key thing we lever­aged from Enterprise Ire­land was about laws and reg­u­la­tions, and how to work within the mar­ket,” said Napier.

Ire­land’s con­nec­tiv­ity to the Apac re­gion will see a big boost in June 2018 with the launch of a di­rect flight between Dublin and Hong Kong with Cathay Pa­cific, the first ever di­rect flight from Ire­land to the Asian main­land.

“Don’t un­der­es­ti­mate the im­pact of having ‘Dublin’ on de­par­ture boards in Hong Kong will have,” said Man­nion. “It will cre­ate a dy­namic where com­pa­nies in that part of the world will be in­ter­ested, be­cause it will be eas­ier to do busi­ness here.”

That the Routes to Growth event was or­gan­ised in part­ner­ship with Cathay Pa­cific is fit­ting. There is no doubt that the Asi­a­pac re­gion is fly­ing high. For Ir­ish com­pa­nies, it is time to get on board.

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