Gritty Optimism in the Global Marketplace

August 31, 2010 · by James P. Cramer and Jane Gaboury

Our most recent survey of global professional practice finds there is success to be wrung from exporting services.

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The Owners Dilemma

How Firms Succeed 5.0

Marketing Around the Globe

Where in the world should you look for opportunities? We’ve culled some projections based on data from the CIA’s World Fact Book, the World Bank, and the direct experiences of Greenway Group consulting clients.

Of the 10 fastest growing counties in the world, half are located in Asia. The fastest growing countries for A/E services in 2010-2011 are expected to be:

• China (including Hong Kong and Macau)

• India

• Indonesia

• Vietnam

• South Korea

• Brazil

• United Arab Emirates

Switzerland has become the world’s most expensive destination for property developers as the recovery in the Swiss building industry has pushed up labor and material costs. The soaring construction rates in Switzerland helped it overtake Denmark as the world’s priciest building market during the past 12 months, according to EC Harris.

United Kingdom building costs are down about 10 percent, and are now 60 percent less expensive than Switzerland.

Vacancy rates at office towers and at hotels vary widely around the world, but few countries are as overbuilt as the United States, where office vacancies often hover just above 20 percent, making the outlook for new construction discouraging. North America is one of the slowest growing continents in the world, but it is also one of the most stable. In North America, architects and designers often point to new business growth in:

• Canada

• Anguilla

• Panama

• Cuba

• Mexico

South America has strong economic forecasts projected over the next 10 years. Thus the continent has received a lot of new marketing attention from U.S. architects, engineers, and designers. In the past, there has been boom and bust growth followed by recession. However, growth has been stabilizing and the entire continent is growing. South America has achieved a new level of growth optimism, particularly in:

• Brazil

• Peru

• Uruguay

• Argentina

• Chile

Africa has not had much attention given by U.S. firms thanks to images of dire poverty, corrupt dictators, and unstable governments. However, a minority of U.S.-based firms in the Top 30 are exploring opportunities in Africa and finding work ranging from the design of entire cities to continental headquarters for U.S.-based enterprises expanding there. The best opportunities are to be found in:

• South Africa

• Morocco

• Angola

• Republic of the Congo

• Ethiopia

• Equatorial Guinea

The Middle East presents a mixed bag of opportunities and disappointments involving getting paid for work performed. But there are sharp contrasts with new opportunities unfolding. Leading in growth for U.S. firms:

• United Arab Emirates

• Egypt

• Qatar

• Saudi Arabia

• Kuwait

• Lebanon

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