More and more Australian businesses are recognising the market potential of our closest neighbour.
South Australian jam and condiment maker, Beerenberg, for example, has been selling jams to Indonesia since the mid-1990s, and initially targeted luxury hotels.
But Indonesia's surging middle classes, and developing appetite for premium food products has meant Beerenberg now markets and distributes its products throughout Jakarta's supermarkets.
“The opportunities for Australian business in markets like Indonesia are diverse, but access to practical information and market insights is critical to success,” Asialink Business Director of Research and Information, Megan Mulia, who has overseen the Country Starter Packs said.
4. Embracing innovation is key
“Technology has changed the way we engage with others all over the world,” federal small business minister Kelly O'Dwyer said at the launch. “We all know changes in technology have presented – and are still presenting – enormous opportunities for businesses. We just need to make sure we're able to seize them.”
Businesses need to be nimble and entrepreneurial, and see themselves as innovators, not just exporters if they are to claim their share of opportunity in Asia.
Those that are stuck in the mindset of Australia solely as an exporter of surplus product or bulk commodities will go by the wayside.
Being innovative involves having the customer front and centre of mind. It involves tailoring products to match the distinct tastes and attributes of Asia's diverse markets and consumers. China's population, for example, is over 50 times bigger than Australia, and profound differences exist from region to region, province to province and city to city.
Emerging channels such as e-commerce can offer an innovative avenue for sales and marketing. In China, the number of online shoppers is expected to reach 350 million people this year and will be worth $A840 billion by 2020.
5. Business needs to take the lead
With opportunity Asia firmly on their horizon, businesses in all sectors increasingly understand that they need to step-up to the challenge.
Take the Australian services sector. Recent research by Asialink Business, ANZ and PwC showed that if we invest in building the right skills and knowledge now, Australian services exports alone to Asia could be worth over $A160 billion and create more than one million jobs, by 2030.
Yet companies all around Australia have told us that it is not a lack of awareness about the opportunity in Asia that is holding them back - it is a lack of market insights and practical tools.
In fact, in a survey by Asialink Business in 2014, supported by the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group, business told us that a gap in comprehensive information about Asian markets was one of the biggest hurdles they faced.
The statistics speak for themselves. Small and medium businesses still constitute only a tiny slice of Australia's total merchandise and service exports.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data from 2013 to 2014 shows of Australia's two million companies, only 45,000 exported goods overseas. Of these exporters, 338 were responsible for the export of more than $A233 billion (or 85 per cent) of Australia's $A273 billion of goods exports that year.
That is why Asialink Business has released Country Starter Packs, a tool to help Australian businesses in all sectors enter or grow in Asia. Each pack highlights the different approaches needed to understand Asia's diverse markets of over 500 million consumers.
We hope the packs will help arm more Australian businesses with the tools and insights needed to unlock their share of Asia's growth opportunity.
Mukund Narayanamurti is the CEO of Asialink Business