Looking to the Asia Pacific region is a 'no-brainer' for Irish companies hoping to expand their trading footprint, according to the Director of Country Analysis with the Economist Intelligence Unit.

John Ferguson is today addressing an Enterprise Ireland conference on the potential of Asia from a trading perspective.

Between Brexit and nascent global trade wars, there's something of a shift taking place in global trade patterns.

Here in Ireland, many exporters are looking beyond their traditional exporting partners.

"People need to look at the Asia-Pacific and put it in the context of expected global growth of 2% per year over the next five years. In the Asia pacific region, it's 5%," John Ferguson explained.

He said the key to breaking into the region was learning from companies who've done it already.

"It's all about finding out who's been there, what challenges did they face, how did they get around them and take advantage of that remarkable growth story."

Mr Ferguson said many of the companies who trade in the Asia-Pacific region start by using developed markets like Australia and Singapore as a launching pad, but they eventually make their way into the Asian continent.

"China has to be part of any story. It's a huge market. Our forecast is for growth of over 6% every year for the next few years. It's a huge market and despite its challenges, including trade wars, it's a no-brainer."

Addressing the recent protests in Hong Kong, he said it was an example of the importance of being knowledgeable about the region.

"Hong Kong has had bouts of unrest. People who do business there know how to handle it. For Irish companies here looking at going to Hong Kong, they need to talk to other companies and ask them how they handled it; did it effect exchange rates or inflation or the business or policy environment?" he explained.

Looking beyond the big economies like China and India, John Ferguson said companies shouldn't ignore some of the smaller emerging economies.

"The likes of Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia have huge populations and fast growing economies. They're rapidly becoming middle class economies, the kind of economies we have here and in the UK. That's what people need to serve," he added.