CHIEF executive officers (CEOs) in the Asia-Pacific region are more confident of growth over the next 12 months, with the majority seen putting their money where their mouth is.
A survey of more than 600 CEOS in Asia-Pacific by PwC showed that some 46 per cent of respondents say they are "very confident" of revenue growth over the next 12 months, up from 42 per cent a year ago and 36 per cent in 2012, despite slowing growth in China, a major economic engine for the region.
The majority of CEOs (67 per cent) say they plan to increase investment in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) region over the next 12 months. Such plans span across all 21 Apec member economies, with China, the US, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Singapore being the hottest investment destinations.
More than half of respondents revealed that they are either building or expanding facilities in Apec economies in the next three to five years. Among them, 37 per cent are building or expanding their facilities in China.
Some 38 per cent of the respondents also expect to raise their organisations' headcount globally by at least 5 per cent a year over the same period.
The PwC report, released on Saturday at an Apec meeting in Beijing, noted that underscoring this confidence among CEOs is "a vision of an Asia Pacific region that is more connected, both physically and virtually, and an outlook for more balanced regional growth".
PwC International chairman Dennis Nally noted that one loud and clear response from CEOs is the need to "be bold and break down barriers to growth".
"Asia Pacific today stands at a turning point as advancing technologies transcend national boundaries and create new demands and in some places, new industries," Mr Nally said in the report.
CEOs have expressed a desire to see the Trans-Pacific Partnership being finalised, intellectual property issues being addressed and greater regulatory harmony in the region, he added.
A majority of respondents believe Apec is moving closer to a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), but 55 per cent concede that the progress is slow.
According to the report, businesses are looking for policy relief on behind-the-border issues. Changes to non-tariff trade barriers are ranked top in terms of having the most impact on their business.
Nearly 60 per cent of executives surveyed say they are now more willing to share insights and resources with business partners in order to speed up product development and gain market access. And more than 40 per cent say their company will likely enter a business combination outside of their core industry.
Jiang Zengwei, chairman of Apec CEO Summit 2014 Host Committee and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, noted that the report highlights a continual shift towards greater inter-connectedness of businesses. "Business models used to be focused on competitiveness and the pursuit of self-interest. Now, the survey tells us there's an ever greater aspiration to formulate strategies that built trust and broader collaborations," Mr Jiang said.
He noted that the digital economy is also shaping the way businesses view risks and challenges. As the e-commerce landscape continues to evolve, opportunities that were once thought to be inconceivable are now within reach. "Against this backdrop, governments should continue to play a major role in facilitating greater cooperation and integration," Mr Jiang said.