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The Yin-Yang of Trade with Asia

01-Mar-2017 What stops us from doing business with our closest neighbours?

Why do so many Australians prefer to do business with Europeans (15,000 km away) or Americans (9,500 km away) rather than trade with Indonesians (2200 km away), Vietnamese (3200 km away) or the rapidly increasing number of Chinese billionaires (4600 km away)?

It’s a timely and relevant question. Shouldn't we be curious about why people cling to traditional trade relationships with low growth Western nations, when our closest Asian neighbours are growing at between 4.0 and 8.0 percent? In addition, ongoing changes in the world’s economies, societies and climate create further opportunity in these markets that Australian industries and businesses are well equipped to address.

To prepare your business to survive the disruption ahead, look for new partners and customers in Asia and other fast growing regions of the world. ‘Adapt or die’ we hear the technology giants cry; moving to high growth markets with improved products and services ought to be in everyone’s business plan.

When preparing your Asia expansion plan, be sure you examine opportunities economically and strategically and avoid the trap of letting comfort, habit, bias and outdated assumptions about Asian nations or their cultures get in the way of a good investment decision.

Yin-Yang, IQ-EQ, or something else?  

You’ll be more effective trading across the region when you get your rational thought or IQ to work in unison with your emotional sensing or EQ. These contrary forces are actually complementary: they are your yin-yang.

The Chinese believe that the interaction of the yin (the negative, dark, feminine side) works with the yang (the positive, bright and masculine side) and influences the destiny of creatures and things. They say:

you can’t experience  harmony when there is only light,
nor balance when there is only darkness – 
you need both for each to exist 

It’s the same with your IQ and EQ. Learn to combine and balance the contrary messages they send you and you’ll be a more effective leader in the region and enjoy greater business performance.

Let’s take a look at the yin-yang of trading with Asia below. Both parts are influenced by your rational thought and emotional sensing. As you weigh up the positive and negative arguments, find ways for your challenges to interact with opportunities and your yin-yang will be balanced.

The Yin of Trading with Asian Nations

Are the differences really so challenging?

Cultural: I don’t understand people from the East; their customs are weird 

Physical: their cities look and smell strange and I can’t find the food I like

Systems: the legal and financial systems are cumbersome; they are not like ours

Are the costs really so great?

Time: it requires too long to build relationships before profitable deals can be made

Financial: I have heard of many disasters and we cannot afford a failure

Profit: Asian traders always want a discounted price and that eats into our margins

Are the risks really so high?

Brand and IP: Asians are well known ‘copy artists' and we may lose our IP

Reputation: I’m not used to working with foreigners, it might damage my career

Underdeveloped: they are so far behind, they couldn't possibly work professionally

Unknowns: I don’t have enough cross-cultural/language experience or capability

The Yang of Trading with Asian Nations

The similarities can create advantage

Next-door-neighbours: great advantage comes from being the only Western nation bordering Asia 

Time zone: there is only a 2-4 hour time difference between us and major Asian cities that we could trade with

Education: hundres of thousands of Asian leaders studied in Australian Universities and these Alumni can make great business partners

Ambition: Asian nations are also keen on building relations with their neighbours too

The benefits can outweigh costs

Proximity: shared regional experiences and interests can motivate parties to work well together for common good

Loyalty: governments encourage and support regional peace and prosperity 

Goodwill: our shared history helps create mutual generosity between Asian and Australian universities, industry bodies, businesses and dynasties 

Growth: investments made in Asia now will deliver huge benefits for decades to come as Asian nations continue to grow

Australia’s strengths can set you apart

Australians in Asia: known for their friendly nature, good communications and tenacity

Multiculturalism: tapping into the Asian-heritage in your workforce can help you develop greater cultural appreciation and Asia capability 

Primary industry: food and other agricultural products and services are in great demand in both the progressive and emerging Asian nations

Services exports: Australia is globally competitive in financial, professional, design, education, health and other services needed for growing and urbanising nations

Are you making your Yin-Yang work for you?

Don’t allow your discomforts and anxieties to dominate the debate about whether your business can do well in Asia. Turn the intelligence you have gathered about possible hurdles and challenges on its head and make it work in your favour.

Prepare well, plan the journey, get a coach, make sure you have the necessary equipment, anticipate the hurdles to limit surprises and map alternative pathways to get around them.

Last but not least: you need more than a travel visa, a business-class ticket and a roaming iPhone. You must also take a sizeable bucket of self-belief, confidence in your business and be prepared to make a commitment to achieving sustainable outcomes. You will find these arrive without effort when you have adequately prepared for the journey and done a few rehearsals. So get ready: use your yin-yang to boost regional trade with Asia and make sure you are a beneficiary of the Asian century. 

Pamela Young
Managing Director 
growthcurv Pty Ltd

‘Going Global or Accessing Asia?' 2 on 17 June

It’s a workshop for leaders who want to be more effective in entering foreign markets and managing cross-cultural relationships

 Pamela talks about 'Doing Business in Asia' with 
Alan Kohler on Qantas Radio

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