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New Frontiers:

Three Key Emerging Economies in 2018

By Peter Cohen - September 12, 2018 (Cover Photo By: Ivan Bandura, retrieved from

When one thinks of international business, imagery of high rises and bustling urban environments with developed financial systems first comes to mind.  But in a world more connected than ever, we can increase the field of view and expand horizons.  Emerging markets are where this expansion is occurring.  Of course, there are always good reasons for businesses to remain static and established in traditional environments.  These include regulatory safety, state stability, and access to market information.  However, some emerging economies are making strides in all three areas.  When considered in concert with their growing consumer populations, these markets truly represent the next frontier.

Thijs Degenkamp

At OTH, International our formula of distilled quantitative and qualitative analysis matches industry sectors to overseas markets.  For several sectors we have identified three emerging markets to look out for as of late:  India, Rwanda, and Vietnam.  Based on demographic trends, local public policies, and promising macroeconomic indicators, these destinations could be the next thriving markets for international business.

While India’s position as an ‘emerging’ economy is perhaps debatable, it is still referenced in many headlines as such.  India has the second largest population in the world, giving it massive competitive advantage in terms of labor force.  Many experts say that India’s population has one of the fastest growing middle classes to date.  With that being said, the locus of India’s income distribution remains a highly contested discussion.  Matching this growing population, GDP grew at a comparable rate.  Based on data from the World Bank, India’s annual growth rate was at about 6.6% in 2017 and is expected to rise to 7.3% in 2018.  Finally, India has made reforms in the last year, increasing its ease of doing business considerably.  Some of those reforms include issue areas such as starting a business, paying taxes, and conducting cross-border trade (World Bank, 2018).

Sai Kiran Anagani

Africa is often overlooked when it comes to deciding where to do business next, but there are some booming economies on the continent.  Some of these lean more towards the frontier market definition and involve more risk, but still show great potential.  Rwanda is at the forefront of those African markets.  Sadly, in some circles Rwanda is still plagued by the negative reputation of its 1990s genocide.  Currently, though, the nation’s ICT, coffee, tourism, and mining industries show tremendous growth, and are renewing its reputation and drawing the attention of many.  The regulatory environment is also highly welcoming in this East African state.  It boasts an impressive ranking of 40th on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.  For those who are looking to do business in Sub-Saharan Africa, one might seriously consider Rwanda as a starting place.

maxime niyomwungeri

Many argue that China is the world’s fastest growing economy.  While this may be true, the PRC remains vastly unopen to the outside economic community.  On the other hand, its neighbor, Vietnam, has a similar growth trajectory and the potential to offer better commercial prospects.  According to an article written by the World Bank, Vietnam is projected to have a staggering 6.8% increase to its GDP in 2018.  Coupled with a labor population trending away from agriculture to more efficient manufacturing industries, this economic growth is likely to stand for the coming years.  Trade and labor reforms are occurring, albeit slowly.  With that being said, the regulatory environment in Vietnam will likely improve as government shows much more commitment to economic openness than China.

Compared to some of the more conventional overseas markets, these three economies show potential and perhaps represent undiscovered frontiers.  For the small to medium-sized business owner, they could offer access to new revenue streams.  If improved human capital, increasing manufacturing industries, and political and economic openness continue to rise in these states, their economic environments are also sure to thrive in the coming years.