Asia-Pacific region on track for greater economic integration

New PwC APEC CEO survey names trade liberalisation, investment policies and labour mobility as CEOs’ key priorities


KUALA LUMPUR, 5 September 2012 – Economic disruption, including a possible recession in the U.S., the Eurozone crisis and the slowdown in China’s growth have taken a toll on the confidence of CEOs in the Asia-Pacific region. Just 36% of executives surveyed by PwC said they are "very confident" of business growth over the next 12 months.

For Malaysia, CEOs headquartered here have billed it as a fast growing APEC economy. And investors looking at our market will place the most emphasis on access to local talent and domestic customers.

Longer-term, things look better. More than half (54%) of CEOs have a high level of confidence for the next three to five years. They are also optimistic that the region is on track to achieve greater economic integration.

These were the key findings from a survey by PwC of more than 370 business leaders across the 21 APEC economies for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO summit which takes place on 7 – 8 September in Vladivostok, Russia.

"CEOs are facing a new world of risk. They have become more resilient in managing growth in troubled times. But with the global shift of economic power to Asia, CEOs need to work closely with policy makers to harmonise regulations and remove trade bottlenecks across the diverse economies of this region," said Sridharan Nair, Managing Partner, PwC Malaysia.

"To meet the challenges and opportunities ahead for this region, they will have to extend their presence beyond their home markets, innovate their products and processes, and develop the right talent for future business opportunities," he continued.

CEOs said the top economic risks to their growth were a spike in oil prices above US$150 per barrel, a U.S. recession, breakup of the Eurozone, and a slowdown in China's growth to below 7.5% of gross domestic product.

Regulation and investment policies

Nearly half of Asia-Pacific CEOs said removing barriers to trade in services is a key to greater integration within the 21 APEC members. China and the United States were their dominant targets for investment over the next three to five years.

To fuel deeper integration, CEOs called for APEC’s political leaders to be more transparent in communicating international investment policies, and allow businesses access to timely, reliable data on economic developments.

Talent

Meeting the need for talented, highly skilled workers remains a top priority for CEOs in Asia-Pacific. 40% said they plan to expand their workforce by at least 5% in the next three to five years. However, 42% expect that talent shortages in the region will worsen over the same time period.

CEOs recognise that having more incentives such as competitive salaries, and better apprenticeship and internship programmes are critical in attracting and retaining talent.

CEOs call for APEC to work on skills mapping in the region to create opportunities while easing restrictions on immigration to enhance the mobility of knowledge workers.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • CEOs believe that they need to make a case for environmental goods and services. 74% of them welcome policies that address the negative impacts of energy and water use.
  • Nearly 60% are adopting water conservation techniques while 27% are exploring renewable energy solutions to generate their own power in the next three to five years.
  • Almost 60% said there is a ‘critical’ need to improve their use of technologies like cloud computing, digital devices and social media in order to meet customer and employee expectations. 
     

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Notes to Editors:

  • The full report on the survey results can be found at www.pwc.com.

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  • About APEC
    The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is the premier economic organisation in the Asia-Pacific region. Established in 1989 by 12 economies, APEC fosters growth and prosperity by facilitating economic cooperation and expanding trade and investment throughout the region. APEC’s 21 member economies today account for 55 percent of global GDP.

    The APEC CEO Summit is the Asia-Pacific's premier business event, drawing thousands of economic and business leaders from around the region and beyond.

  • Survey Methodology
    Carried out by PwC International Survey Unit, the APEC CEO Survey 2012 was conducted between June and August 2012 covering 376 CEOs and industry leaders in 40 economies, including all 21 APEC economies.