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Public Affairs Insights from the Centre

27 Sep 2011

Counting on Asia

George Onisiforou

This year’s Roundtable for Asia regional heads of function and senior public affairs practitioners (held by the Centre and the US Public Affairs Council in Hong Kong) sparked off an exciting discussion about the sociopolitical developments in the region and the challenges for business.

Companies in the region are feeling pressure from their global CEOs to grow much faster and deliver profits to compensate for slow growth in other regions.

However, such expectations are often unrealistic and need to be managed, given the many complexities in the region that can hinder such fast growth, especially for international companies.

An increased Asia identity has created confidence in the region.

Local businesses are not satisfied with just being a ‘factory’ or a piece in someone else’s supply chain — they are driven now more towards becoming marketers themselves to sell directly to consumers and compete in the marketplace.

Individuals are now more selective and demanding — in what they buy, in where they work, in how much they want to get paid.

Local governments and businesses are also more demanding in their dealings with international businesses.

New policies and regulations are creating restrictions, especially towards a nationalistic and protectionist nature that favors local companies. For many governments in the region it is better that a company is seen as ‘local’ than ‘multinational’.

Roundtable participants concluded that the public affairs function can play a very important role in how these challenges are presented to their companies’ leadership, and have an influence in how the region is perceived strategically.

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