REGION SPECIAL ASIA Opportunities Changing profïles Urgency 18 ISSUE 19 APRIL 2009 THE WORD points of sales in such large economies make sense. But you also need to become acquainted with what's happening in such places, and understand the scales involved. We're talking about countries here, but in India, for example, you could talk about provinces. In China, meanwhile, you could talk about provinces or even cities - that's how large it is. China has cities with tens of millions of people, which we in the West have often never heard of. And these provinces and cities drive economies that, in some cases, are larger than the Dutch economy. So we need to break these markets down into manageable chunks and act accordingly." Pruijs identifïes Rabo Development's 10 percent stake in URCB, which was the first foreign equity participation in a Chinese rural cooperative bank, as a very smart way for the bank to get its feet on the ground in China. "It is an excellent way of absorbing know-how and intelligence in a manageable way in the rural sector," he says. With businesses in Asia being asked to significantly up the percentage of F&A activities in their portfolio, staff will need to become more specialised. However, Pruijs believes that all of the knowledge is already available in-house, and says he is primarily after drive and commitment. "We have a great deal of knowledge throughout the region, so if any training needs to be done it'll be on the job. It's the can-do mentality that we're after. It's about rubbing shoulders with the experts and learning how we can really help our clients. That's why FAR in Asia has been placed very close to the business. It's also why we've given them a budget as a research team - it's what I would call monetising the intelligence. And as an organisation, Rabobank produces so much wonderful material within the F&A space. We produce reports almost daily, covering everything from the wine industry, to beef, dairy, lamb, and the entire commodities Within the Asian market lie two of the world's largest countries, in terms of both population and market opportunity - China and India. Pruijs is well aware of both countries' potential, but notes that timing is crucial. "Before you even approach a market," he says, "you first have to understand how the country and its economy is organised. For example, if you look at a country like India, its primary agricultural sector is highly fragmented, which is perhaps not something you necessarily want to finance today. Flowever, if you dig a little deeper you see developments in terms of the emergence of larger farms and conglomerates. And within the food processing industry, for instance, India already has players of real scale. Additionally, India is a large importer of agricultural goods and commodities, so many of our clients in Australia sell into India and China. It makes good business sense for us to understand these trade flows, to follow these trade flows, and determine if there are business opportunities available to us." Pruijs also sees similar trends in China, although he notes that increasing demand on the domestic market has the potential to put pressure on China's agricultural sector. "The dynamics between India and China are quite different, but I don't think the Chinese will accept that what they have built up over the last 10 years, mainly on the back of export-driven manufacturing, could largely be wiped out by increased pressure on their domestic economy. I believe that they have sufficiënt financial buffers in place to ride it out." For Rabobank, this means being able to straddle short-term events with a sound long-term strategy, Pruijs says. "In China, for example, we talk of our 2020 strategy, and you really need to look that far ahead. We've always said it's good to be close to your clients, which would mean that further sector. And so there is already a great deal of know-how out there, but better utilisation of this intelligence is a big driver in all of this." According to Pruijs, being a sector specialist is only one part of being a capable banker. 'We have to make sure that we are positioned properly from a client's point of view," he says. "More than ever, we have to sit in

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