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Growth, Opportunities and Challenges Emerging Markets: Growth, Opportunities and Challenges By Philip Guarino June 12, In the not so distant past, military coups, hyperinflation and crippling foreign debt dominated our headlines when developing nations were discussed.
The past decade has brought remarkable changes; a monumental shift in the economic balance of power that is already radically changing how and where we conduct business. Choice of words aside, emerging markets have become integral players in the world economy.
Rising Fortunes, Stronger Growth As the developed world emerges from a particularly harsh recession, the US, Japan and Europe are likely to face a prolonged period of slow growth. Balance sheets—public and private—remain strained, unemployment levels are high and consumer confidence is weak.
Restricted credit and fears over jobs have caused many consumers to retrench, and consumption as a percentage of GDP has fallen.
As companies look to grow, they may struggle to find enthusiastic consumers for their products and services at home. The economies of the emerging countries are mostly highly export-driven with strong inflows of capital and investment and well-capitalized banking institutions.
And as Figure 1 shows, near-term growth is forecast to continue to be strong. IMF The overall growth in wealth is staggering. Stories abound of jet-setting Chinese and Russian magnates snapping up pricey real estate, private jets and Lamborghinis.
But perhaps even more relevant to most businesses is that vast segments of populations have enjoyed tremendous economic mobility in an environment of relative economic stability.
Abject poverty in many countries such as India and Brazil has fallen dramatically over the past decade. Overall inflation, which frequently reared its head and depressed purchasing power-particularly for the poor- for decades, has dramatically decreased in the developing world.
As many of these citizens are becoming part of a credible consumer class, a massive new critical wave of consumers has emerged. And as banking systems have incorporated these wealthier citizens, further growth will be buoyed through the expansion of new credit facilities.
Any discussion of emerging markets as a unified entity is destined to be challenging. Geographically, these markets span the globe and possess vastly differing economic and political conditions.
Those economies outside of the developed world- US, Canada, Japan and Europe-are what are commonly referred to as the emerging markets.
Asia was the first region to rebound from the economic crisis, with many business people reporting a minimal slowdown in economic activity. China is the largest economy in the region, having surpassed Japan earlier this year in terms of nominal GDP. With a massive population of 1. Other economies too have gained significant steam over the past decade.
Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan are strong performers with consistently strong growth since the economic crisis of High incomes, high savings rates, highly-educated workforces and open markets offer outstanding opportunities for companies looking to develop a presence in these favorable economic environments.
Finally, a stronger Renminbi will increase the relative purchasing power for the Chinese and will make it more feasible for other countries in the region to revalue their currencies.
This will create a favorable environment for North American and European exporters. In Latin America, most major economies are enjoying far more economic and political stability with Venezuela as the most notable exception. With its vast resources, large population and expanding middle-class, foreign firms are increasingly finding the need to be present in this key market.
Mexico and Argentina are the two other regional heavyweights and both offer significant growth opportunities. In Mexico, growth has been slower due to its strong links with the US, but economic prospects remain good.
Growth in Argentina has been particularly strong in the past decade after a disastrous recession in Additionally, although it boasts a much smaller market, Chile is a star performer that continues to attract investment from abroad due to its infrastructure, exceptional economic stability and high marks for transparency and ease of conducting business.
Hype and Reality The vast potential created by buoyant economies should be cause for great enthusiasm among businesses. More open markets and new consumers with stronger purchasing power will create vast opportunities for exporting companies.
But winning business strategies will also take into account that challenges remain. China shares a weakness with many emerging economies in its high disparity of wealth between city and rural areas. Poor domestic infrastructure limits evenly-distributed growth, inadvertently directing even further investment and development in many mega-cities.
China is not alone in these challenges. Brazil, India and many other emerging economies face similar growing pains. Accordingly, the operational challenges for companies investing in China would be different from those seeking to invest in Chile.
Other issues such as weak institutions, personal safety and corruption continue to dissuade investors and make operating environments challenging. As countries continue to engage in a more international context, it is generally accepted that a gradual improvement in the level of transparency and legal protections will result.
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