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Asia's optimism stands out in a troubled world

Asia has its problems, of course, first and foremost China's slowing economy and the overarching threat of its trade dispute with the United States. But compared to the madness of Brexit currently engulfing Europe, the volatility of the Trump administration and the growing number of populists ruling in Latin America, it seems a rather sane and stable place.

This impression is confirmed by the views of senior Asian leaders of both public and private businesses. A recent analysis by Euromonitor, based on over 100 interviews, reports that almost half of them expect their sector to grow by 6-10% this year, with a further 30% estimating growth at 11-40%. This is a remarkable sunny outlook in the face of a slowing global economy. And it underpins the IMF's current forecast of 6.4% GDP growth for emerging and developing Asia in 2019 -- compared to 3.5% for the world as a whole.

Also worth noting is that a large majority of the Asian companies polled by Euromonitor expect their growth to be organic, coming from new products developed internally; from expanding sales channels; and from expanding into new (Asian) geographies. Starting or expanding digital sales is high on the agenda, with increasing attention being paid to advertising on social media rather than using traditional marketing.

By contrast, M&A activity, new joint ventures and even just exporting to countries outside Asia are given a lower priority. The conclusion is that Asian corporates have already identified plenty of growth opportunities in their existing portfolios and close to home...now the focus is on execution.

For those wanting to invest in or partner with these businesses, this optimistic outlook is both positive and negative. It confirms that Asia remains an attractive place to place your bets, with plenty of growth to tap into. But it also suggests that this growth will come at a price. If you want to do business with a self-confident Asian business you will have to pay up.



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