Chinese growth has recently stabilised at a rate slightly above the government’s new 7% target and this should continue into 2013. Businesses who have a presence in China should watch out for the following:
We believe that the outlook for China remains positive. Recent business surveys suggest an expansion in both the manufacturing and service sectors and that consumer confidence is at a 16-month high. We project GDP growth rates of 7.6% for 2012 and 7.8% for 2013. Growth may slow a little in the longer term, but should still match the government’s 7% target over the rest of this decade.
India’s recent economic performance has been relatively disappointing with GDP growth decelerating to its slowest rate since the second quarter of 2009 and a particularly marked downturn in industrial production.
This slowdown has provided the authorities with a strong incentive to introduce reforms. Businesses should have the following issues on their radar:
Our projection is for India to grow by 5.2% in 2012 and 5.9% in 2013, with the potential for even stronger growth in later years of the decade.
Brazilian economic growth has slowed down over the past year but this should only be a temporary dip. The government’s policy response was an announcement of a three-year long £49 billion infrastructure stimulus package which will help sustain growth going forward. Simultaneously, interest rates have also been cut significantly this year.
The 2016 Olympics and the 2014 football World Cup will boost the Brazilian economy in general. One particular consequence of these events is that the authorities are acting on their commitment to increase the defence budget from 1.6% to 2% of GDP. The number of foreign and domestic defence companies with Brazilian presence has more than tripled since 2007 and is expected to increase even further.
Our projection is for Brazil to grow by 1.6% in 2012 and but then pick up to around its longer term trend rate of 4% in 2013.
As these economies continue to change at a very rapid pace, we expect these differences to intensify in the future and change the economic structure of the countries concerned. This means businesses will need to adopt a customised approach when deciding to expand in these markets. This will be guided in part by whether their long-term strategy involves selling their products in a foreign market or setting up production centres abroad to reduce their cost base.
Emerging markets have some common characteristics but also important differences. We have focused our attention on India and China to indicate how two broadly similar emerging economies in terms of overall projected GDP growth can have different dynamics at a more detailed level. China’s economic structure will change from a production-dominated to a more consumer-oriented one by 2020. In particular:
Consumption: A doubling of GDP between 2010 and 2020 will translate to much greater consumer demand for non-essential products and services. So, setting up sales points in China will increase revenues for Western consumer-focused companies.
Production: A sharp decrease in the growth rate of the Chinese workforce by 2020 due to an ageing population means that wages will be pushed up. Labour-intensive operations, like mass manufacturing hubs, will lose out from this trend.
China has different dynamics to India. Our analytical approach suggests that, by 2020, growth in India will come from both production – as its workforce will continue to grow rapidly, keeping wages down - and consumption. For example, the Indian Chamber of Commerce (FICCI ) estimates that retail sales could double in value to around $1.3 trillion in 2020.
Does all this mean that expanding into the Indian or Chinese economy is an easy strategy to implement? Certainly not. Businesses will have to consider the practical aspects of expanding overseas as much as the macroeconomic environment. There are many obstacles and risks that need to be evaluated and overcome to make entry into fast growing emerging markets successful.
India has the economic ingredients to nurture its consumption and production capacity. Instinctively this should attract foreign businesses. However, in practice, this is not happening as fast as might be expected. Local rules, regulations and conventions make it more difficult to do business there than in advanced Western economies.
The World Bank ranks India 132nd in the Ease of Doing Business index, lower than Ethiopia. The top three areas of weakness that the business community has highlighted. For example, it takes around twenty days for the authorities to process documents for anybody who wants to import raw materials. In money terms, it costs more to import a product in India than the average for an OECD country, despite the lower standard of living there.
Contrast this to Indonesia, which offers broadly similar macroeconomic advantages to businesses as India, but ranks somewhat higher in the Ease of Doing Business index (although still low compared to advanced Western economies).
Brazil’s growth is significantly driven by commodities, especially in the mining, agribusiness and oil and gas sectors. Infrastructure improvements are also having a significant effect, with Brazil taking advantage of upcoming sporting events to bridge the infrastructure gap that exists with other similar economies. Brazil is currently spending approximately $80bn on infrastructure improvements, which equates to roughly 3% of 2011 GDP. Finally, the rise of a middle class with greater buying power continues to drive growth.
Growth is likely to continue and this is an exciting time to be involved with the emerging market countries. Businesses are becoming increasingly attracted to the large markets and the potential for growth that the emerging economies can deliver.
With regards to Brazil specifically, it is currently surfing on a wave of upcoming sporting events. There is effectively no unemployment here – practically everybody who wants a job can get one and foreign companies are leveraging local talent.
Our clients are very optimistic regarding emerging markets. Several companies who have not had a presence in Brazil are now considering it as a country to move into. However, it is important to remember that while the emerging market economies are often bundled together, each country will present its own specific challenges and opportunities. For example, Russia has an ageing population and the poverty levels in South Africa are more evident than in some of the other emerging countries.
In Brazil, UK firms who specialise in areas such as security and construction have been taking advantage of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro to promote their presence in the country. Other UK companies have been targeting the aerospace, defence and security sectors in an attempt to tap into the growth potential in Brazil.
There will be different issues in each country but I’d say there are two main things to consider: