53% of CEOs in Asia Pacific believe their current business models will not survive, PwC

Chanchai Chaiprasit, CEO of PwC Thailand
Chanchai Chaiprasit, CEO of PwC Thailand

PwC’s “26th Annual Global CEO Survey - Asia Pacific: Leading in The New Reality” has revealed two striking data points that bring to life the challenge facing 1,634 CEOs in the region today.  

  • 69% of Asia Pacific CEOs believe global economic growth will decline over the next 12 months, compared to last year when 76% felt growth would improve. 
  • 53% of Asia Pacific CEOs believe their companies will not be economically viable in the next decade, if they continue on their current path (14% more than global CEOs).


As macroeconomic conditions deteriorate, uncertainty rises and inflation hits levels not seen in decades, Asia Pacific CEOs are facing the dual imperative. Leaders must manage short-term external risks to drive profitability in order to survive whilst simultaneously, transform to thrive in the longer term.


Raymund Chao, PwC Asia Pacific and China Chairman, commented: “At this time last year, Asia Pacific CEOs’ optimism hit a 10-year high. Just a year later, we’re seeing a stark reversal of this confidence. With the continuous disruptions, CEOs in the region are facing the new reality. To execute the dual imperative successfully, leaders need to redefine their priorities around value creation, build a differentiated culture of empowerment, and collaborate broader and deeper than ever before.”


Despite fading CEO confidence in the global economy, Asia Pacific CEOs are far less pessimistic about prospects of their own countries compared to their global counterparts. In particular, CEOs in larger Asia Pacific countries show the highest level of optimism in their domestic growth: China (64%), India (57%) and Indonesia (50%) (compared to global – 29%). The growing emphasis on national interests over global ones represents an acceleration of trends underway – however the fundamentals of the region continue to be bolstered by trade liberalisation and markets welcoming foreign direct investment.


Inflation, macroeconomic volatility and geopolitical conflict top Asia Pacific CEOs’ concerns


While health and cyber risks were the top concerns a year ago, the impact of the economic downturn is top-of-mind for Asia Pacific CEOs this year, with inflation (41%) and macroeconomic volatility (30%) leading the risks weighing on CEOs in both the short term (i.e., the next 12 months) and medium term (i.e., over the next five years). 


Geopolitical conflict (30%) also stands out as one of the top risks. The war in Ukraine and growing concern about geopolitical flashpoints in other parts of the world have caused Asia Pacific CEOs to rethink aspects of their business models. They are planning to:

  • adjust their presence in the current market and/or expand to new markets (53%), 
  • adjust supply chains (49%),
  • diversify their offering (48%).


This is in contrast to global CEOs who prioritise investment in cybersecurity and data privacy, suggesting that Asia Pacific CEOs focus more on near-term economic impacts: preserve operating profitability and immediate cash flow generation whilst deferring value creation and sustainability to the mid to long term.


Chanchai Chaiprasit, CEO of PwC Thailand, added that “Like their Asia Pacific counterparts, most Thai CEOs are seeing an impending recession this year. Inflation, geopolitical conflict, and supply chain disruptions are all adding obstacles to doing business. While Thailand’s tourism sector is recovering, with more than 20 million foreign tourists expected in 2023, the price of electricity and other necessities are gradually rising. This has certainly impacted production costs and the competitive advantage of many industries.


“In order to navigate this year’s uncertainty, we’re likely to see more business leaders seeking opportunities to create value from partnerships or M&A activities to expand into new, non-core foreign markets. Product expansion and revised procurement strategies focusing on resilience to difficult situations will be key to regain consumers’ trust,” he said.