SMALL businesses in Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines did the best in 2018 and are most optimistic about 2019, according to a survey of small firms across 10 Asia-Pacific markets, released on April 10.
Of the other two Asean countries in the survey, Malaysia came in fourth on both measures, while Singapore was fifth for performance but lagged behind in optimism.
The other markets covered by the 10th annual CPA Australia Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey were Australia, mainland China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Taiwan. Over 3,600 small business operators were surveyed in November and December 2018.
Overall, small businesses saw conditions weaken last year, with Singapore and Malaysia being the only markets where more respondents reported growth in 2018 than in 2017. Vietnam topped the table with nine in 10 respondents reporting growth, with Indonesia (86.5 per cent) and the Philippines (84 per cent) close behind. Those in Australia and Hong Kong were the least likely to have reported growth.
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Business performance in most markets was not too far off from the previous survey's expectations for 2018, with the exceptions of Vietnam, where significantly more firms grew than expected, and Singapore, where fewer firms did.
Confidence also weakened regarding the coming year. Nonetheless, in all markets except Australia and Hong Kong, a majority of firms expected to grow in 2019.
"It appears that global trade tensions are behind the less positive results for 2019, with many small businesses concerned that a global trade war will have a negative impact on their business in 2019, especially in Hong Kong," said the report. Indonesia, however, bucked the trend, with more respondents there expecting trade tensions to have a positive effect on their business than a negative one.
Small businesses that did well in 2018 were more likely to have made profitable investments in technology (75.2 per cent); to have been established for 10 years or less (71 per cent); to earn 11 per cent or more of revenue from online sales (67 per cent); or to receive 11 per cent or more of sales through mobile payment technologies (66.5 per cent).