Beyond the BRICs: the world's other fast-growing markets

Will Hodges introduces four emerging market economies set to rival Brazil, Russia, China and India in the coming decade

China? So 2011. Brazil? Been there, done that. The BRICs - the term coined by Goldman Sachs to group the four most important emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China - are still expected to be the main drivers of global growth over the coming decade, but the four countries are no longer the hot investment opportunity they were a few years ago.

Growth in China, which exceeded 10 per cent a year for some time, is expected to plateau at around 7 per cent over the next three years as exports to the US and the eurozone slow. The slowdown of growth has had a noticeable impact on overseas investment. In 2012, foreign direct investment into China fell 3.7 per cent to £75 billion, representing its lowest level since the trough of the global economic crisis in 2009. It's a similar story in Brazil where growth is expected to fall to 1.5 per cent this year.

With less money flowing into the BRICs, it seems that investors have been turning their attention to the next generation of emerging markets. Goldman Sachs has identified the 11 most important of these new markets, terming them the "Next 11". These are composed primarily of Asian states - Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and South Korea - while two from the Middle East - Iran and Turkey - and two from Africa - Nigeria and Egypt - also make the list. The remaining spot is awarded to Mexico, the only Latin American country on the list.

Taking Goldman Sachs' list into account, we take a brief look at what we consider to be the four most important of the second-tier emerging economies and analyse their prospects over the next few years.


Turkey has been on the radar of the global investment community for some time. This once impoverished backwater between southeastern Europe and Asia, known as "Europe's BRIC", has come into favour thanks to a combination of factors.

Growth conditions

Turkey boasts a substantial population of just under 80 million people, making it the third most-populous state in Europe after Russia and Germany. Having both a considerable consumer market and a large workforce gives the country an advantage in the manufacturing sector.

What's more, Turkey's population is young, with an average age of just 28, compared with the EU average of 39. The country also boasts a thriving banking sector, which has profited from a growing need for corporate and consumer financial services in the country and the surrounding region.

This combination of factors has seen Turkey surge ahead of much of Europe in terms of its economic growth over recent years. The country's GDP grew by 8.5 per cent in 2011 - higher than any European state - and despite something of a slowdown since then, it's forecast to grow 3.5 per cent this year, more than four times that of the EU.

European ambition

A sign of just how far Turkey has come is that the country is now on track to be accepted into the EU within the coming decade, a development which appeared laughable when the government first made the application to join the union in 1987, such was the perilous state of the country's finances.

Acceptance into the EU would provide Turkey with a platform from which to bring itself on par with many of its western European neighbours. In order for this to happen, however, the country must first undergo a series of economic reforms that will allow it to meet the requirements of EU entry. One of the hardest tasks has been taming the country's historically high levels of inflation, with policymakers setting a medium-term target of 5 per cent per year.

South Korea

The largest of the Asian Tiger economies, South Korea has emerged from the shadow of neighbouring Japan to be recognised as one the world's most exciting growth markets.

Having recovered from the effects of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, when the country received a financial bail-out from the International Monetary Fund, South Korea's economy enjoyed considerable growth during the 2000s, and has become the 15th-largest economy in the world.

Manufacturing hub

At the heart of the economy is a well developed manufacturing sector, centred on the production of heavy machinery including motor vehicles and ships. The country's traditional export markets have been the US and Japan, while China has become an important destination for goods in recent years.

The past two decades have seen the economy expand into high-tech electronic equipment including HD televisions and mobile phones, helping the country become the world's seventh-largest exporter in 2012, with overseas shipments totalling more than £350 billion.

South Korea's stable economic and political climate and well-educated workforce have made it an increasingly attractive destination for foreign direct investment. Inward FDI reached almost £11 billion in 2012, a year-on-year increase of 18.9 per cent and the highest total in the country's history.

Blowing bubbles

South Korea's recent economic triumph threatens to make it a victim of its own success. Recent credit rating upgrades, combined with a healthy trade balance have led to significant gains in the value of the Korean won against major world currencies, providing a growing risk to the competitiveness of its export sector.

The value of the won against the US dollar increased by 8.5 per cent over the past few months, while the currency is also steadily rising in value against those of Japan and China. Further increases in the won's valuation and South Korea may be heading for a similar period of stagnation to that which has blighted Japan for much of the past two decades.


While blessed with ample natural resources and a population of 114 million, Mexico has often found itself overlooked by investors because it is overshadowed by its richer, more powerful neighbour the United States to the north, and booming Brazil to the south.

Export economy

Developments within Latin America's second largest economy over recent years have led the rest of the world to sit up and start taking notice, however. The country's export sector has started to flourish again with sales totalling $349.7 billion (£228 billion) in 2011 - an annual increase of 17.2 per cent. Part of this growth has been down to its increasing competitiveness, particularly in relation to China, where rising wage levels and higher fuel prices have driven up the cost of exports to North America.

Meanwhile, the country's growing middle class is driving consumer spending, providing further fuel to the economy. More relaxed lending by banks, coupled with lower levels of inflation in recent years - currently just over 4 per cent - have given ordinary people money to spend on houses, cars and other items.

Overcoming problems

For all of its economic progress in recent years, Mexico's Achilles' heel remains its fragmented political structure, which has prevented the government from pushing through reforms needed to liberalise the economy. For example, oil production is monopolised by state-owned firm Pemex, and a lack of private sector innovation has led to a 25 per cent drop in the country's oil production since 2004.

Added to this is the country's long-standing struggle against organised crime. Firmer government measures to tackle Mexican drug cartels through military force have led to an eruption of violence across many states in the north. Mexico's murder rate is now among the highest in the world and negative press has had a damaging effect on the country's tourism sector.

Nevertheless, Mexico remains well-placed to begin challenging Brazil as Latin America's hottest market for overseas investment.

South Africa

South Africa is Africa's largest economy, accounting for roughly 25 per cent of the continent's GDP, and the country is regarded by investors as a gateway to the rest of the African market.

Economic development

South Africa's transition to democracy following apartheid has paved the way for considerable economic development over the past twenty years, opening up the country's abundant natural resources to commercial development at home and abroad.

Its biggest asset remains its mining sector - South Africa is the world's largest producer of gold, platinum and chromium, and also boasts enviable coal and diamond reserves - which has allowed it to benefit from the growing global demand for raw materials from other, larger emerging markets such as China and India.

The ending of apartheid, meanwhile, has allowed a large black middle class to emerge as an important consumer market in South Africa, which has increased the size of its domestic market. Income per capita is the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa at $10,700 (£7,030), and a notable increase in wage levels among the non-white population has led to significant expansion in demand for retail goods, providing a further boost to the economy.

Issues remain

For all its progress over the past two decades, South Africa remains a country beset with major problems. The move to a democratic political system has proved beneficial for sections of the country's black majority, but poverty and unemployment remain major issues for many. Some 25 per cent of South Africans are out of work, while half the population is estimated to be living below the poverty line.

In addition, the country faces a significant challenge to modernise its crumbling infrastructure after decades of underinvestment, with power shortages a major hindrance to mining and industrial output. The social problems caused by high rates of crime and of HIV/AIDS infection are also hindering the nation's economic advancement.