A sharp tour d’horizon of the East’s significant market opportunities.
Business-strategy consultant and Financial Times columnist Simpfendorfer (The New Silk Road: How a Rising Arab World Is Turning Away from the West and Rediscovering China, 2009) writes with vibrancy and enthusiasm, yet neither disguises his closely argued, multipronged business advice to merchants and investors. Once primarily a manufacturer, the East—which Simpfendorfer considers to be the span from Beijing to Jakarta to Istanbul, with Cairo an important consideration—is now as much a market. The East is growing, and along with that growth comes complexity and the side effects of doing business abroad—e.g., cultural tastes, income variations, regulations and national currencies. The author, who has two decades of experience working in the region and brings a respectful sensitivity to doing business in the global marketplace, has witnessed this extraordinary transformation of the area, now comprising 50 percent of the world’s population and 80 percent of its Muslim population. The scope of the region’s market is vast and varied, and it requires much more intimate knowledge than that gained managing from afar; there will be a critical need for country managers and local staff on the ground. Simpfendorfer is both persuasive and common-sensical as he counsels businesses to explore the halal market, the exhilarating film scene, and entertainment ranging from cricket to Korean pop music. He points to serious potential problems looming ahead—clean water, pollution, waste removal, energy conservation—and the various cultural and economic obstacles that have thwarted dealing with these issues. China, being central to this transformation, garners much of the author’s attention, and his recommendation is not to put all your eggs in one basket but to partner up with other emerging economies. In China, “the state sector grew more powerful as it squeezed out private firms and turned back the clock on market reforms,” though only the negligent would overlook China’s “143 mid- and large-sized cities with populations larger than 750,000.”
A canny snapshot of a sprawling, kaleidoscopic and ever growing marketplace.