Last month I had the privilege of opening ACCA’s Asia Pacific Thought Leadership Forum. It was a really impressive event, attracting more than a thousand guests from right across the region.

It was hosted by our colleagues in Malaysia, but because of the intervention of Omicron I joined in virtually – ‘live’ from my house in Dublin, Ireland. No matter. It was still a thrill to take part.

The occasion was titled ‘2022 Economic Outlook: A Roaring Tiger or a Lazy Cat?’, with the sessions considering the prospects for the coming year. I had to smile when I saw the name of the event. It took me back to the time when I left school and was looking for a job, the economy was struggling, and the Irish economic ‘Celtic Tiger’ was more of a kitten. My early career coincided with our big cat roaring into life. It lost some fur and fangs in later years, but the economy has recovered since, I am pleased to say.


Orla Collins, ACCA president

We are the canaries in the coalmine of the world economy, the first to pick up on signs of prosperity or  peril

ACCA published its latest quarterly Global Economic Conditions Survey around the same time the event was staged. As always, the survey offered an interesting forecast of the economic weather heading our way.

The report is always really useful because it pulls together the combined expertise of accountants all around the world – and accountants are perfectly placed to anticipate shifting trends in business. In many ways we are the canaries in the coalmine of the world economy, and the first to pick up on signs of rising prosperity or impending peril.

This time the report suggests cautious optimism for 2022 as we look forward to continued global economic growth, although at a modest pace. I also know that inflation is a concern, and many members face a hit to their businesses and to their own pockets.

Below the headlines, several intriguing developments have emerged. Among them, and especially relevant for our members in developing economies, was the sense that emerging markets are poised for a giant leap forward in digital technology and rapid growth in the clean energy sector.

Revenue from the digital economy has been growing in emerging markets annually at 26%, compared with 11% in developed economies

The adoption of digital technology can drive down costs, increase productivity and stimulate demand. And the advantage emerging markets have is their ability to bypass the bricks-and-mortar stage of business development, beginning instead with digital, much as we’ve seen in the banking and financial services sector. Since 2017, revenue from the digital economy has been growing in emerging markets at an average annual pace of 26%, compared with 11% in developed economies.

It just goes to show that economic crises also give rise to opportunity. I know that ACCA accountants are ready to play their part in speeding economic progress as we move from pandemic to the epidemic stage.