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How Can Asian Companies Best Compete?
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When the likes of Europe and the US are getting more and more competitive by integration, the question of how Asian companies can achieve this has drawn the attention of many Asian countries.

In a panel discussion on Sunday at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference in Hainan Province, the "Competitiveness of Asian Countries" was the topic for discussion.

Asian companies are playing an increasing role in the economic growth of their various countries. "However, the ratio of Asian multinational corporations is lower than American and European corporations." said Umar Ahmad Ghumman, Pakistan minister of State for Privatization and Investment.

He said, "This is the time for Asian multinational companies to gear up their operations and to forge strategic alliances and partnerships with each other, as they have more scope compared to USA and European multinational companies, like reasonably priced skilled labor, cost effective and abundant availability of raw materials, huge markets, inter-Asian free trade agreements, and economic reforms in Asian countries," he said.

"Asian countries should unite together to achieve competitiveness, which refers to the competitiveness of Asia as a whole instead of single countries," said Ghumman.

Robert F. de Ocampo, president of Asian Institute of Management, said that to build up their strength in the global market, Asian companies required to be innovative, should not isolate themselves from global competition and needed to improve product quality in labor-intensive industries. 

Asian companies also needed to identify their positions in the market, he continued. "We've seen many enterprises succeed because they understand their domestic market and how to develop new products for that market.

Drawing on the experience of his dairy company, Pan Gang, chairman and CEO of the Yili Group, shared his views with other panelists on how a company could gain a competitive edge.

Pan believed that it took time to build up a brand image. Yili had avoided tough competition with its rivals. Instead the company increased its competitiveness by intensifying internal corporate governance and developing new markets that met consumer needs.

He highlighted innovation as being an important factor. "Many companies in Asia are small in scale and are very young compared with renowned global companies. However, they are more flexible in making changes and can be innovative," Pan said.

On the role of government in enhancing the competitiveness of Asian companies, Ocampo offered his thoughts.

He said government should make the private sector the main players in competition as they were innovative. They should also be provided with favorable public policies to better promote innovation and competitiveness and have access to capital to develop.

(China.org.cn by staff reporter Yuan Fang, April 24, 2006)

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