Ninety per cent of Australia’s top 200 countries are clueless when it comes to understanding how to do business in Asia.
A report by think tank Asialink reveals most of corporate Australia lack a sophisticated knowledge of Asian markets along with trusted relationships, language skills and cultural awareness.
“Just as we wouldn’t send our top athletes onto the field without ample training, we shouldn’t expect business leaders to kick winning goals in Asia until they are match fit,” Asialink Business CEO Mukund Narayanamurti said.
Out of a possible total of 30, the average Asia capability score of ASX 200 boards was only 6.42.
Non-listed companies proved more agile in Asia, often outperforming their ASX colleagues, especially at the senior executive level.
The report found large public companies are out-performing smaller ones.
Energy and resources and financial services sectors are getting better marks but manufacturing, healthcare and pharmaceuticals groups are the least match-fit for Asia.
Senior female executives in the top ASX 200 companies, however, were four times more likely than male counterparts to have Asia literacy in their skill set.
PwC Asia practice leader Andrew Parker said corporate Australia needed to lift its game.
“If the last 25 years have been about shipping our commodities to Asia, the coming decades will be a story of services and consumption fuelled by a rapidly expanding Asian middle-class,” he said.
“If we aspire to be more than casual observers, Australian businesses will need to be where the consumers are – and that is increasingly in Asia.”
Institute of Managers and Leaders chief executive David Pich said a shift in long term growth over short term returns was well overdue.
“Asia offers businesses the chance to achieve double-digit growth but these returns are characteristically seen in the medium to long term,” he said.