October 2007

Emerging Markets

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The term 'Emerging Markets'  was originally brought into fashion in the 1980s by then World Bank economist Antoine van Agtmael, of the International Finance Corporation. Emerging markets are countries that are restructuring their economies along market-oriented lines and offer a wealth of opportunities in trade, technology transfers, and foreign direct investment. The five biggest emerging markets are China, India, Indonesia, Brazil and Russia. Other countries that are also considered as emerging markets include Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, Poland, Turkey, and South Korea. Each of them is important as an individual market and the combined effect of the group as a whole could change the face of global economics and politics. In recent years, new terms have emerged to describe the largest developing countries such as BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and BRIMC (Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, China). These countries do not share any common agenda, but some experts believe that they are enjoying an increasing role in the world economy and on political platforms.

A large section of the population in the developing economies are not able to reap the benefits of the new liberalised economies. There is still a lot of scope to help small corporations, and improve inter-state trade and regional trade, which need more thrust and policy pushes. The proliferation of information and communication technologies gives an opportunity for new and innovative business models to flourish. These models can be used to bring the large sections of population, commonly referred to as the “Bottom of Pyramid” (BoP), into the folds of new market scenarios. This spells business and employment opportunities for the most deprived. Entrepreneurship at the local level must be assisted at all fronts, not just by local governments, but by large private sector players, and civil society organisations. Also, local commodities can find a variety of markets with the aid of new communication technologies. A thrust on sustainable solutions is important, so that the marginalised do not have to be dependent upon aid and borrowings. The government can create opportunities in this regard by giving a thrust to infrastructural development in neglected areas. The CSC (Common Services Centres) scheme in India is all set to provide direct and indirect employment to a large number of people.

Social entrepreneurship models can go a long way in opening up the BoP market towards integration with the rest of the economy. The private sector too needs too look at this sector as a productive one, instead of treating it as a non-sustainable strata. e-Commerce can link the local market with the global and vice-versa. Micro-credit institutions could provide financial services to the un-banked. IT outsourcing can be relocated to the rural areas with some initiatives from the government and large corporations in training the rural youth. Language barriers continue to stand tall in the face of ICT diffusion into new markets. This is a glaring problem in Africa as well as Asia. MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises), which are labour intensive, too stand to benefit with new technologies and extending their access to newer markets and corporations.

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