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A new group of nations known as MINT countries could enjoy huge growth in coming years.
As the global economy moves towards recovery in the aftermath of the financial crisis and recession in some of its major players, businesses and governments alike are seeking opportunities for growth. Interest in the so-called ‘BRIC’ countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – has spiralled as a result. These emerging economies have all been seen as promising markets both for buying at affordable prices and making profit from mounting domestic demand.
But these four nations are far from the only countries which show impressive potential for the next few years. In fact, Jim O’Neill, the noted economist who originally coined the BRIC acronym, has recently named the MINT countries – Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey – as the new future of the global economy. As the second or third largest economy of their respective regions, these countries have less of a reputation than their BRIC counterparts, but just as much potential, if not more, Mr O’Neill claims.
All four have considerable advantages over more developed nations in that they are seeing a sharp rise in the number of working-age individuals, providing them with a large workforce which is the envy of many Western nations with their ageing populations. Meanwhile, all four are still at a point where average earnings are not just lower than in developing nations, but have yet to catch up with the BRICs. For businesses, this could mean that new sourcing options become available as these countries develop their manufacturing bases, while export prospects may begin to look particularly strong.
Probably the best-known and most hyped of the MINT countries, Mexico has one clear advantage: its extremely convenient location. Nestled between the world’s largest economy in the shape of the US to the north and the fast-growing Latin American market to the south, the country has no shortage of opportunities to trade with neighboring markets.
Investment from these nearby nations is also likely to contribute to future growth. As the US in particular sees its economy, strengthening, its close links with Mexico are likely to mean that growth picks up. As a major commodity producer, the nation benefits from relatively inexpensive and secure supplies of key raw materials which keep manufacturing costs comparatively low.
Also enjoying a prime geographical position which gives close links to larger markets, Indonesia’s location, spread across a huge array of islands in the Pacific, allows close links with China as well as other economies such as Australia and the fast-growing Southeast Asian powers. Add into that a comparatively young population of more than 250 million people, and it’s clear to see how the country could become an economic powerhouse.
As a large commodity producer, oil prices are an important factor in the country’s economy. Mr O’Neill has suggested that Indonesia still needs to work on creating the right infrastructure to support a fresh wave of demand, but since it lags behind the likes of Mexico in economic terms, the “catch-up” growth potential is vast.
Africa is often neglected when businesses talk about new markets, but that perception is beginning to change. Top of the list for many companies who are considering growth in sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria is one of the continent’s major oil producers and enjoys comparative political stability among its peers. These advantages were reflected in the nation’s spectacular performance in the markets last year – in fact, Nigeria’s stock market shot up by a staggering 50 per cent across 2013.
As with Indonesia, domestically produced raw materials are an advantage, but manufacturing remains underdeveloped. Once businesses have learned how to navigate the workings of Nigerian authorities, the potential for investment and growth is high.
Conveniently situated for the huge trading bloc that is the European Union, as well as the burgeoning Middle Eastern market and several Asian economies, Turkey’s “east meets west” status has done it plenty of favors in terms of attracting trade from a wide market. Still, its prospects at the moment appear tied to Europe, which has faced struggles of its own since the financial crisis.
At the moment, Turkey remains one of the better-developed MINT nations, even though the cost of energy and raw materials is likely to be more volatile. Political instability and high levels of public debt could potentially cause problems for this promising economy, but it is likely the nation could demonstrate high levels of growth in the next few years.