Emerging markets are still a big draw and many savvy CEOs and veteran investors such as Mzi Khumalo, Mark Mobius and Jim Rogers have made great returns over the last few years. Clearly it can be a roller coaster ride in countries that have a less stable political and economic environment, but the rewards can be worth it.
The trick to emerging market investment is to do your research and find countries that are maturing and provide investors with a good risk-to-reward profile. Here are some the most attractive markets to invest in for 2019.
Despite some recent political turbulence, India continues to be at the top of the list for smart investors. English is widely spoken and its economy has remained stable for a number of years. It has a young population. According to The Guardian, about 600 million people, more than half India’s population, are under 25 years old, so there’s lots of potential.
On top of that, India has an exploding middle class, and according to recent estimates, half of India will be middle class by 2040. This demographic change has a real impact on business growth and expansion, particularly towards financial services, retail and luxury goods. When the population changes, so does the attitude towards oversea investors, making it easier and smoother to get an early foothold.
India is a functioning democracy, and while 2019 brings a general election with it, the re-election of Narendra Modi will ensure market stability for the rest of the year. That’s why Ian Hargreaves, manager of the five-star rated Invesco Asia Trust, recently said: “A degree of market volatility around India’s election is unsurprising, but the result does not overshadow our long-term view and we doubt that there will be any significant change in economic policy.”
Thailand is another country on the up for investment. Its booming tourism industry and proximity to China makes it one of the prime countries in South East Asia to invest, and Chinese property investors in particular are beginning to put their money where their mouth is.
Despite some political uncertainty, more and more property investors are seeing Thailand as a good prospect. According to recent data from Juwai.com, Thailand was the fourth-most-popular country for Chinese property investors last year, with $2.3 billion coming from the Asian powerhouse, and it’s likely to follow suit this year. Increased Chinese interest usually signals that a country is on the up, so consider following their lead and thinking about investing in Thailand.
Ethiopia might not be on your current list but it should be. It’s one of many African countries attracting record levels of investment. According to the Ethiopian Investment Commission, during the second half of last year and the start of first three months of 2019, more than 150 foreign companies put money into the country. Most of this investment is coming from Asia, particularly China and Hong Kong, but other countries including Saudi Arabia and Norway are starting to see the medium- and long-term benefits.
In addition, the Ethiopian Government is starting to invest in its workforce, which is always a good sign. The acting deputy president of Oromia Regional Government said earlier this month that tackling youth unemployment is not a choice for his administration but mandatory. He is putting plans in place to invest $123 million to create job opportunities for half a million young people this year.
Earlier this month, the US ambassador to Ethiopia, Michael Raynor, told the Ethiopia Partnership Forum in Washington DC: “The shift away from a state-led model of economic development, toward one that taps more fully into private sector growth and creativity, is rapidly opening new opportunities.”
Brazil was the investment darling of the BRICS countries a few years ago and it’s still ahead of India in terms of Foreign Direct Investment, but it has slid down the list of prime places to invest. This makes it a prime option right now and it has enormous potential for savvy investors. Many emerging markets have gone through some rough waters recently, but Brazil has remained strong which is a good indicator of a resilient economy.
Its presidential elections in 2017, and the instability around that, caused some of investment to drop off, but figures seem to be recovering with the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, who, despite his far-right stance, is pushing through key reforms. As a result of his election, the Brazilian stocks got off to a great start in the first quarter of 2019. Its potential, with a population of over 200 million, has yet to be truly discovered, which presents a mass of investment opportunities.
The Philippines may be the hidden jewel of Asia’s economic crown. Of course, when looking to invest in Asia, China is the first to come to mind, but the Philippines has huge potential. Don’t be put off by bad PR about the country’s war on drugs, the Philippines is one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, and has been for some time. The best news is that the government is about to implement its Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, which will cut corporate income tax rates and rationalise investment incentives.
The country’s economy hasn’t had a single year of negative GDP for over two decades, and its growth is proving to be sustainable in the long term, making it a safe bet for investors this year. In fact, tech companies such as Microsoft and Google are two of many international companies that have recently located to the Philippines.
Assessing it as a place to invest, Forbes said: “The economy has been relatively resilient to global economic shocks due to less exposure to troubled international securities, lower dependence on exports, relatively resilient domestic consumption, large remittances from about 10 million overseas Filipino workers and migrants, and a rapidly expanding services industry.”