4 May 2020

Asian businesses 'don't expect to go back to business as usual' - survey

3:23 pm on 4 May 2020

Businesses in Asian countries are expecting permanent change after Covid-19, with more focus on domestic manufacturing than exports, a new survey suggests.

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Photo: Patrik Stedrak/ 123rf

The Asia-New Zealand Foundation questioned a range of small, medium and large businesses in 15 countries across Asia about how the economic impacts from the pandemic would affect trade.

The foundation sought the views of 100 businesses and received response from 88 from Cambodia,  China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

The survey was designed to provide a snapshot of what is happening on the ground in Asia and how they plan to cope economically with Covid-19 and its aftermath.

*See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

Foundation executive director Simon Draper said one clear message was that there would be a permanent change to the way people in Asia did business.

"We thought it was useful to hear what they had to say and think it gives us a useful baseline for the coming weeks and months as Covid-19 plays out," he said.

"A large majority talked about the move from offline to online and the need for different ways of doing their own business, and changes to the supply chain and changes to air transport.

"What came through this was they don't expect to go back to business as usual."

The survey found that while business sentiment was pessimistic a number were encouraged about the ability for businesses to innovate and find new opportunities.

Draper said one of the clear messages coming out of the survey is there will be a permanent change in the way Asia does business.

"One of the things is that their focus will be on manufacturing for the domestic market as opposed to manufacturing for export and so there is going to be some risks for us around supply chains but there is also going to be some opportunities.

"There will be some areas that will be slow for them to get back into. There will be some new opportunities in Asia but there will also be some risks," he said.

He said the message for New Zealand businesses is to be well abreast of what is happening in Asia.

"Given the importance of the relationship, given our geography isn't going to change, given that going into this seven out of 10 of our largest trading partners are in Asia, knowing what is going on there is going to be important."

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