We’ve all heard of the BRIC and CIVETS countries, but now attention is turning to a new group of fast-growing markets. The MINT countries – Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey – have been tipped as the hot ones to watch over the next few years.
Economist Jim O’Neill, of Goldman Sachs, first coined the term BRIC in 2001 to highlight the importance of the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. These four huge markets showed double-digit growth throughout the early part of the decade, although this slowed during the global economic crisis.
Now O’Neill has come out of retirement to highlight the potential of the MINT countries, which could become the next emerging economic giants. His recent four-part series for BBC Radio 4 profiled these countries, and explained why investors and exporters should start paying more attention to them.
Although they’re far apart in geographic terms, they share a number of common features. These include large, growing populations, with high proportions of young workers. This is in sharp contrast with Europe and North America, where ageing populations are set to slow down economic growth.
Mexico, Indonesia, and Nigeria are all leading producers of commodities, and can tap into rising demand in China and other Asian countries.
Three of them can take advantage of large markets nearby: the USA for Mexico, China for Indonesia, and the European Union for Turkey. Although Nigeria doesn’t have this obvious advantage, its central position could help it become the hub of Africa’s growing economy.
Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey share stable inflation and sound public finances, as well as being members of the G20 group of countries.
While the countries all face challenges, including widespread corruption and a lack of infrastructure, these are gradually improving. Nigeria is taking steps to solve its current issues with energy availability – which O’Neill believes could help the economy double in six or seven years.
Internet use is growing rapidly in all four countries, and e-commerce is likely to play an increasing role. Indonesia has the 8th largest internet population in the world, while the other three are in the top 15. Penetration rates are still relatively low, and millions more people are getting online each year, either through fixed connections or mobile phones.
Of course, the changes won’t happen overnight. While the BRIC markets haven’t met investors’ high expectations, O’Neill believes that they and the MINTs are part of a “tectonic shift” of the centre of economic gravity away from North America and Europe.
We’ll be watching them closely in 2014! And if you missed the BBC radio series, you can catch up here.
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Photo of Mexico City – Kaspar Christensen