As we mentioned in our previous article, a few weeks ago our team travelled to Australia, Dubai and Singapore to consolidate our international partner network and explore market opportunities. First-hand experience of these cultures, and an expansion of our contacts, allows us to now offer a variety of services, to both Spanish and foreign firms, in more than 35 markets across all continents.
Business in Dubai
Visiting the Dubai Museum is a powerful experience, one which allows us to witness one of the most rapid evolutions of a city over the past century. We find fascinating contrasts, from the fishing ports and handicraft stands that signified the origin of an agrarian lifestyle, to the countless skyscrapers which now adorn this contemporary desert city.
This knowledge of history helps us to understand the background to Dubai’s current open and dynamic business environment and the level of interest in it globally:
- As a stable and westernised market, with a relative social openness
- As a platform for all middle Eastern countries
- Through its drive to become a regional hub which has made it more resistant to international monetary instability, like the euro depreciation
- As an inviting environment for expats due to its level of safety and attractive taxation.
However, we must also take into account the downsides: social and cultural barriers and high levels of inequality related to the endless flows of ‘black gold’.
There are countries far better positioned in this promising market than Spain. Therefore we are increasing our efforts in Dubai and our trip focussed on meeting with distributors and agents from specialised sectors such as industry and food.
Business in Australia
We met our local partners in Australia, where we have plans to open an office next year, to spot and evaluate business opportunities. Over the past 12 months we have met with various agencies and companies in both Sydney and Melbourne and we are building relationships with New South Wales Trade & Investment and Invest Victoria, the investment promotion agencies of the two most populated Australian states.
Australia is a unique proposition as it’s a country with a westernised culture located in the Asia-Pacific region. As part of the Commonwealth, its legal and economic structures are similar to the other Anglo-Saxon countries and it has a high degree of market purchasing power. It’s a stand out among the AAA rated nations due to 24 consecutive years of economic growth, which not even the crisis has managed to stop, and it now ranks above Spain in GDP measures.
With growing fears of the end of the ’resources boom’ in Australia, linked to the slowing of Asian economies, some of the opportunities we have spotted are related to the productivity increases, a basic necessity of the economy, given that labour costs are particularly high. The sectors which currently present the best investment opportunities are:
- Financial Services
Australia offers a range of facilities for technology and infrastructure companies. Australia boasts two of the cities with the highest standard of living in the world, making investment and the movement of expatriates very attractive. But it’s important to take into account the challenges: the contra-seasonality, the difference in time zones and the geographic distance, which can complicate communications and operations.
Business in Singapore
On landing, the first impression of Singapore is that despite the dual challenges of overwhelming humidity and high living expenses, it boasts one of the best business environments in the word. It has high levels of personal and legal security, and governments, unlike more familiar examples, which carry out long-term planning.
Unfortunately, Spain’s business presence, and therefore its relevance in the market, is limited in terms of both country image and companies. Anecdotally, some of our partners didn’t even know the brands of the main Spanish banks! However, we are making inroads in some niches, especially in the field of renewable energy where opportunity exists and where some companies are benefiting from the incentives Singapore offers to establish an operating base in the region.
Several technological fields also offer important opportunities in Singapore. We spoke with SPRING Singapore, the prime minister’s office for innovation, and the business cluster of renewable energy SEAS. It is apparent that Singapore is a country willing to implement disruptive technologies (communications, smart cities, etc) and is able to support their introduction via a strong economy with the capacity to fund new ventures. And, of course, Singapore is an ideal platform for networked contact within the region.