Know your strengths in the ASEAN market

Published: 03.10.2017 Related countries:  Singapore Singapore

To understand one’s own strength and that of the enemy will make you invincible in doing battle

There is an old Chinese saying “知己知彼 百战百胜”and it loosely translate as “to understand one’s own strength and that of the enemy will make you invincible in doing battle”.

It is precisely this importance that we have to understand and appreciate in the market we want to operate in.

Having intimate knowledge, market intelligence and in-depth understanding of the clients that you are dealing with, the industry that they are in and the country that you want to operate in is paramount to success.

Take an example of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) market which comprises of 650 million people and possibly the 4th largest trading block in the world. Of the 10 countries which form the block, only Singapore and the Philippines speak and write English widely when conducting business. The rest of the countries find comfort in speaking their own language. We may still able to communicate in English with them, but at times you may need to clarify which is their preference.

Besides language - culture, religion and practise differs among countries. For example, the Philippines has 85% of the population that are Catholic with, Malaysia (61%), Indonesia (87%) and Brunei (66%) predominantly Muslim with each practising Islam and speaking Malay. Thailand (93%) and Myanmar (68%) practise Buddhism and Vietnam (85.4% folk/Buddhism).

I am fortunate being a Singaporean Chinese that I am able to relate to the market well because of our multi-racial, multi-religious society that I was brought up in.

Singapore, a small country, has a population of 5.75 million which comprises of Chinese (76.2%), Malay (15%), Indian (7.4%) and the rest Eurasian. English is widely used and is the official medium used in schools, with Mandarin, Malay and Tamil as the second language. Incidentally, English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil are the official languages of Singapore.

Over my 30 years of experience, doing business with our neighbours and members of ASEAN countries is not necessarily a breeze but we understand each other perfectly well. The requirement of each country and the standard applied are within our knowledge and understanding.

关系. – Relationship.

A big ingredient in doing business in ASEAN and Asia.

Hence, it helps to speak their language.


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