Austrade to IT companies: Don't forget Asia

Local companies aren’t seeing the forest for the trees when it comes to exporting ICT innovations to Asian markets.

Austrade is urging Australian ICT firms to act on the potential Asia has for growing their businesses internationally.

Austrade's Singapore-based trade commissioner, Cheryl Stanilewicz, said Australian ICT firms tend to think of US and UK markets before they think of Asia as a region to promote new business opportunities.

"I think they just don't know what is here. The feedback we are getting is they think Australia exports a lot to south-east Asia, but they don't think of that in terms of ICT. It needs to be known amongst the general ICT company population that there is plenty of opportunity and they shouldn't ignore this part of the world - it's a hidden gem," she said.

Stanilewicz said many of the 60+ Australian exhibitors at last week's CommunicAsia, an event showcasing the latest trends in the ICT industry to key Asia-Pacific decision makers, were suprised at the potential for business opportunities in Asia, especially in the area of mobility and wireless communications.

"There is a tremendous amount of opportunity in telecoms in developing markets, and any kind of wireless communications or mobile solutions also get a lot of attention from visitors here. In places like Malaysia and the Philippines every single person has a mobile phone, and a lot of the applications in terms of information and messaging on that platform are finding tremendous volume and interest in this area," she said.

Stanilewicz said financial services solutions, e-health and e-learning technologies were also popular in Thai, Malaysian and Singaporean markets, driven by government desire in those countries to invest in ICT infrastructure to keep pace with the global economy.

"They are desperate and keen to get new technologies and Australia has a lot of innovations. And we're so close [to Asia] as opposed to trying to do business with the UK and USA."

Austrade's national industry manager for ICT, Peter Harrison, said recent trends in ICT spending show emerging Asian economies are investing in ICT to prepare for long-term growth.

"According to the recent study by the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA), in 2007 countries in the Asia-Pacific spent over US$877 billion on ICT. This year, China surpassed Germany and the UK to become the third biggest spending country at US$327 billion. This has created a huge demand for Australian innovation," Harrison said.

"There's been a significant growth in Australian exports of ICT goods and services to Asia, particularly the ASEAN [region] and China over the past three years. In 2006-07, Australia's ICT exports to ASEAN countries increased to A$415 million, nearly 15 per cent from the previous year; and exports of Australian (ICT) goods and services to China were worth A$183 million."

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