Shaping the digital future in Asia Pacific

Prospects for growth 2018-19

The results of PwC’s annual APEC CEO Survey – conducted each year by PwC Research – have been released by Bob Moritz, PwC Global Chairman, at the APEC CEO Summit in Papua New Guinea. The survey, now in its ninth year, is a strong indicator of international business sentiment and strategies in the region.

Between May and July PwC Research surveyed 1,189 CEOs and industry leaders across the 21 APEC economies. A second survey of U.S. executives from companies with at least US$1 billion in annual revenues was also conducted in early October.

Some of the key findings from this year’s survey include:

APEC businesses are navigating trade uncertainty

  • 35% of business leaders are very confident of revenue growth, down slightly from 37% a year ago, while a net 51% plan to increase investments over the next year.
  • The second survey of business leaders in the US, following the imposition of further tariffs between the US and China in September, shows a majority of U.S. business leaders (69%) expect a positive impact on their revenues from tariffs and only 27% expect that tariffs will have a negative impact on company costs.

Within their organisation, CEOs are focused on becoming more competitive in a digital economy

  • With the internet economy projected to reach over US$200 billion in Southeast Asia alone by 2025, the top investment priority for business leaders is digital customer interactions, closely followed by digital skills for their workforce.

APEC picture

Business leaders know they need to do more when it comes to being digital. Only 15% of respondents describe their use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as 'highly competitive', while a third are not making use of AI at all. Those companies that describe themselves as highly competitive at AI are clear on what they need to do to build on their perceived lead: increase investments, build more capability in AI, and invest in local start-ups.

  • The market for employment also looks positive, with 56% of business leaders creating more jobs and only 9% actively reducing headcount as a direct impact of technology on their workforce. However, the right talent is not always out there with 34% of business leaders struggling to find the people that they need with the right skills and experience.

Data use is increasingly subject to rule-making and impacts cross-border opportunities.

  • While technology can provide part of the answer to sustainable growth, it also presents challenges in the new trade environment, with moving data across borders identified as the area where businesses have experienced the biggest increase in new barriers in the last year; 20%, up from 15% in 2017.

To see the results and download the report, click here.

Cliona O'Beirne | Manager
Profile | Email | +44(0)28 9041 5229

Rachel Surgenor | Senior Associate
Profile | Email |  +44 (0) 7702 698980

Read more articles on