This is “Emerging Markets”, section 4.4 from the book Challenges and Opportunities in International Business (v. 1.0).
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On September 18, 2008, the Economist argued that the term emerging market is dated.
Is it time to retire the phrase “emerging markets”? Many of the people interviewed for this special report think so. Surely South Korea, with sophisticated companies such as Samsung, has fully emerged by now. And China already has the world’s fourth-largest economy. [Note: As of summer 2010, China has the world’s second-largest economy.]
The term “emerging markets” dates back to 1981, recalls the man who invented it, Antoine van Agtmael. He was trying to start a “Third-World Equity Fund” to invest in developing-country shares, but his efforts to attract money were constantly rebuffed. “Racking my brain, at last I came up with a term that sounded more positive and invigorating: emerging markets. ‘Third world’ suggested stagnation; ‘emerging markets’ suggested progress, uplift and dynamism.”“Ins and Outs: Acronyms BRIC Out All Over,” Economist, September 18, 2008, accessed January 6, 2011, http://www.economist.com/node/12080703.
The 2008 article clearly articulates the challenge for global businesses, as well as analysts, who are trying to both define and understand the group of countries typically termed the emerging market. In a 2008 Forbes article, Vladimir Kvint, president of the International Academy of Emerging Markets, noted the following:
During the last 20 years, the global business world has gone through drastic, but mostly positive changes. In the 1980s, international business was essentially an exclusive club of the 20 richest countries. This changed as dictatorships and command economies collapsed throughout the world. Countries that once prohibited foreign investment from operating on their soil and were isolated from international cooperation are now part of the global marketplace.
I remember well when, in 1987, the first $80 million of foreign origin was allowed to be invested in the former Soviet Union. So-called “patriots” accused Mikhail Gorbachev of selling their motherland. Twenty years later, in 2007, Russia received about $43 billion of foreign direct investment, and emerging-market countries received about 40 percent of the $1.5 trillion FDI [foreign direct investment] worldwide.Vladimir Kvint, “Define Emerging Markets Now,” Forbes, January 28, 2008, accessed January 5, 3011, http://www.forbes.com/2008/01/28/kvint-developing-countries-oped-cx_kv_0129kvint.html.
The definition of an emerging marketAn evolving definition that is currently viewed as a country that can be defined as a society transitioning from a centrally managed economy to a free market-oriented-economy, with increasing economic freedom; gradual integration within the global marketplace; an expanding middle class; and improving standards of living, social stability, and tolerance; as well as an increase in cooperation with multilateral institutions. is complex and inconsistent. As discussed in Section 4.1 "Classifying World Economies", there is a plethora of statistics and data available. The application and interpretation of this information varies depending on who is doing the analysis—a private sector business, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations (UN), or any number of global economic, political, and trade organizations. The varying statistics, in turn, produce a changing number of countries that “qualify” as emerging markets. For many businesspeople, the definition of an emerging market has been simply a country that was once a developing country but has achieved rapid economic growth, modernization, and industrialization. However, this approach can be limiting.
Knowing that there are wide inconsistencies, how do we define emerging markets consistently from the perspective of global businesses? First, understand that there are some common characteristics in terms of local population size, growth opportunities with changes in the local commercial infrastructure, regulatory and trade policies, efficiency improvements, and an overall investment in the education and well-being of the local population, which in turn is expected to increase local incomes and purchasing capabilities.
As a leading economic and strategic thinker in the area of emerging markets, Kvint concludes from his research that there are several major characteristics of emerging markets, which create “a comfortable and attractive environment for global business, foreign investment and international trade. Based on my study, an emerging market country can be defined as a society transitioning from a dictatorship to a free market-oriented economy, with increasing economic freedom, gradual integration within the global marketplace, an expanding middle class, improving standards of living and social stability and tolerance, as well as an increase in cooperation with multilateral institutions.”Vladimir Kvint, “Define Emerging Markets Now,” Forbes, January 28, 2008, accessed January 5, 3011, http://www.forbes.com/2008/01/28/kvint-developing-countries-oped-cx_kv_0129kvint.html.
In April 2010, the chief of HSBC, the largest bank in Europe, forecasted a change for the next ten years in which six new countries (the CIVETS: Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa) will replace the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) of the last decade:
“Each has a very bright future,” HSBC CEO Michael Geoghegan said of the CIVETS, named after the cat-like animals found in some of the countries. “Each has large, young, growing population. Each has a diverse and dynamic economy. And each, in relative terms is politically stable.”…
“Within three years, for the first time, the economic firepower of emerging markets will overtake the developed world, measured by purchasing power parity. It’s a defining moment.”
The size of the emerging market middle class will swell to 1.2 billion people by 2030, from 250 million in 2000, he said.
That bodes well for financial services, as households tend to open bank accounts and ask for other products when income reaches about $10,000, Geoghegan said.
“Many Chinese households are about to hit this level. They number about 33 million now. But they will quadruple to 155 million by 2014. In India, the change will also be dramatic,” he said.Steven Slater, “After BRICs, Look to CIVETS for Growth—HSBC CEO,” Reuters, April 27, 2010, accessed January 6, 2011, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE63Q26Q20100427.
In addition, to illustrate how experts debate the next group of emerging-market countries, the Goldman Sachs economist who created the term BRIC in 2001 in a report for the investment bank has added a new group, MITSK. A January article in the British Financial Times newspaper notes, “Jim O’Neill, who coined the term ‘Bric’, is about to redefine further emerging markets. The chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management (until end of 2010) plans to add Mexico, South Korea, Turkey and Indonesia into a new grouping with the Brics—Brazil, Russia, India and China—that he dubs ‘growth markets. It’s just pathetic to call these four “emerging markets.”Jennifer Hughes, “‘Bric’ Creator Adds Newcomers to List,” Financial Times, January 16, 2010, accessed January 5, 3011, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f717c8e8-21be-11e0-9e3b-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1MKbbO8ET.
The Financial Times continues to note how the
Brics have frequently been dismissed as a marketing ploy. However, the nine-year-old term has spawned government summits, investment funds, business strategies and a host of countries keen to join. Adding that Mr O’Neill himself stated that the term “emerging markets” was no longer helpful because it encompassed countries with too great a range of economic prospects. Mexico and South Korea account for 1.6 per cent each of global GDP in nominal terms. Turkey and Indonesia are worth 1.2 and 1.1 per cent respectively. China is the world’s second-largest economy, at 9.3 per cent of global GDP (the US is worth 23.6 per cent), while Brazil, India and Russia combined provide a further 8 per cent. O’Neill offers a new approach that will involve looking at fresh ways to measure exposure to equity markets beyond market capitalisation—for example, looking at gross domestic product, corporate revenue growth and the volatility of asset returns.Jennifer Hughes, “‘Bric’ Creator Adds Newcomers to List,” Financial Times, January 16, 2010, accessed January 5, 3011, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f717c8e8-21be-11e0-9e3b-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1MKbbO8ET.
These opinions and analyses by different economists are highlighted in this chapter to illustrate that the category of emerging markets is complex, evolving, and subject to wide interpretation. So how then do savvy global professionals sort through all of this information? Managers focus on the criteria for emerging markets in an effort to take advantage of newly emerging ones. While there are differing opinions on which countries are emerging, it’s clear that global businesses are focused on the groups of countries offering strong domestic markets. Many of these emerging-market countries are also home to companies that are taking advantage of the improved business conditions there. These companies are becoming world-class global competitors in their industries. Regardless of which definition or classification is used, the largest emerging markets remain lucrative and promising.The sections that follow are excerpted in part from two resources owned by author Sanjyot P. Dunung’s firm, Atma Global: CultureQuest Business Multimedia Series and bWise: Business Wisdom Worldwide. The excerpts are reprinted with permission and attributed to the country-specific product when appropriate. The discussion about Asia also draws heavily from the author’s book Doing Business in Asia: The Complete Guide, 2nd ed. (New York: Jossey-Bass, 1998).
Located below Russia on the western seaboard of the Pacific Ocean, China is about as large as the continent of Europe and slightly larger than the United States. It is the third-largest country in the world after Russia and Canada.
For more than fifty years, China has had a centrally planned economy in which the state controlled most of the commercial activity. Under Mao Zedong’s over forty-year leadership, the Chinese government kept a firm grip on the country’s economic activity. That grip has been loosening since the 1980s as a result of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms, which introduced some strong capitalist characteristics into China’s centrally planned economy. Since the early 1980s, the Chinese economy has been in transition away from central planning and toward a market-driven economy. In today’s model, market forces work in conjunction with state ownership and intervention. This system is commonly referred to as “a socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics.” The government now realizes that it can’t provide all the resources needed to fuel the economy by itself and that the private sector has a major role to play in providing investment—and jobs. Today, China’s economy is caught between two opposing forces—a burgeoning market sector that is outgrowing government control and the inability of that market to function efficiently due to continued influence by the state on production and prices.
In 1979, China instituted economic reforms, established “special economic zones,” and opened its economy to foreign investments and companies. This change in attitude brought remarkable changes to the socialist market economy, resulting in improved living standards and new social attitudes. As local provinces have benefited from foreign investment, particularly in the south, central economic control has weakened. Since 1978, industrial output has increased more than sixfold, in large part due to foreign manufacturers and investors who have established operations in China (usually as joint ventures with corporations owned or influenced by the Chinese government but also with some private-sector companies).
In many areas, China remains a predominantly agricultural society. Major crops include rice, barley, millet, tobacco, sweet potatoes, wheat, soybeans, cotton, tea, raw silk, rapeseed, corn, peanuts, watermelon, and sesame seed. Under the 1979 regulations, peasants were permitted to lease land for private farming and were allowed to sell for profit any surplus produce above the quota demanded by the state in the open market. There are still more collectives than family farms, but this is changing. Besides agriculture, the leading industries include textiles, machinery, cement, chemicals, communications and transportation equipment, building materials, and electronic machinery and equipment.
The results of these reforms have been spectacular—China’s economy has grown an average of 9 percent per year over the last fifteen years and is now the second largest in the world. If it continues at this rate of expansion, some pundits predict China could eventually replace the United States in first place.
One of the most interesting facets of China’s economic transition has been the rise of the middle class. Prior to the 1980s, there was only a small middle class, with most people occupying the lower echelons of the economic ladder. Now it’s estimated that some 300 million Chinese have entered the middle-class cohort, fueling a huge increase in consumer spending.
In the 1990s, the seven-day workweek was progressively lowered to five days. With increased time off and longer national holidays, the average Chinese person now has more leisure time—and more time to spend money on consumer goods.
Take a look at some of China’s major cities—particularly those along the eastern coast—and you’ll see soaring skyscrapers, glitzy boutiques, luxury hotels, and expensive cars. There’s a feeling of economic prosperity and high-powered consumerism. Apartment buildings aimed at the prosperous middle-class market are sprouting up all over China’s major cities.
Travel just a few hundred miles from the cities, though, and you’ll encounter farming scenes reminiscent of the early days of the twentieth century. The economic disparity between the urban rich and the rural poor and all its accompanying problems are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
With a burgeoning market sector that’s outgrowing government control, China is now at the crossroads of reform. Yet despite the high growth rates, enormous challenges remain, including marked regional inequality, an entrenched and at times inflexible bureaucracy, high unemployment, a large floating population, and environmental degradation. Most commentators agree that the country has recognized the complex issues facing its economic future and is now ready to address them.
The growth of China’s telecommunications industry is outstripping expectations. The number of mobile-phone subscribers, for example, has grown from 1 million in 1994 to around 700 million in 2009.Wang Xing, “Battle Begins over 3G Market,” China Daily, October 19, 2009, accessed May 17, 2011, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2009-10/19/content_8808873.htm. But the industry’s expansion hasn’t automatically led to large profits. The growth has been fueled by an increase in competition, putting downward pressure on prices. In fact, a 2009 China Daily article claims that China’s telecom market the biggest battlefield in the world.Wang Xing, “Battle Begins over 3G Market,” China Daily, October 19, 2009, accessed May 17, 2011, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2009-10/19/content_8808873.htm.
Internet use is also expanding rapidly, although its spread is hindered by the government’s attempts to regulate the sector and control access as evidenced in the case between the government and Google in the spring of 2010, as discussed in the case study in Chapter 1 "Introduction". Keeping up with the newest technology in the areas of delivery networks, broadband access, payment procedures, and security has created enormous opportunities. The government has made extensive efforts to invest in infrastructure and emerging technologies.
In 2009, agriculture accounted for an estimated 10.6 percent of China’s gross domestic product (GDP), industry represented 46.8 percent, and services totaled 42.6 percent. Apart from agriculture, China’s leading industries include “mining and ore processing of iron, steel, aluminum, and other metals, coal; machine building; armaments; textiles and apparel; petroleum; cement; chemicals; fertilizers; consumer products, including footwear, toys, and electronics; food processing; transportation equipment, including automobiles, rail cars and locomotives, ships, and aircraft; telecommunications equipment; commercial space launch vehicles; and satellites.”US Central Intelligence Agency, “East & Southeast Asia: China,” World Factbook, accessed January 6, 2011, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.html. The production of consumer goods is now one of the fastest-growing sectors in the economy. Once a source of cheap consumer electronics for the West, China is now producing those items for its own rapidly expanding internal market.
Chinese economic statistics must still be regarded with a degree of skepticism. Often it’s unclear where the numbers have originated or how they have been derived. Still, there’s no doubt that phenomenal growth is taking place, and there are pressures for a more transparent economic reporting system.
In the past, China didn’t see the environment as an issue in its race to industrialize. Now, there is an increasing sense of environmental awareness. “China is changing from the factory of the world to the clean-tech laboratory of the world. It has the unique ability to pit low-cost capital with large-scale experiments to find models that work.”Thomas L. Friedman, “World, Not U.S., Takes Lead with Green Technology,” Post-Bulletin, September 21, 2010, accessed January 6, 2011, http://www.postbulletin.com/newsmanager/templates/localnews_story.asp?z=12&a=470550.
Government attention and foreign investment have been focused on further developing the country’s inadequate infrastructure, including roads, railways, seaports, communications systems, and power generation. Industrial capability, in both light and heavy industries, has also improved. China is a vast country rich in natural resources, including coal, oil, gas, various metals, ores, and minerals.
The largest Chinese companies are those that have capitalized on China’s natural strengths and have state backing or are state-run. For example, PetroChina is the country’s largest oil and gas producer and distributor. PetroChina is the listed arm of state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). It is one of the world’s largest oil producers and is the world’s most valuable company by market value as of 2010, exceeding a trillion-dollar market capitalization. China’s largest companies have benefited from this combination of government support through access to capital and markets along with private-sector efficiencies. For more on Chinese companies in Africa, see the case study in Chapter 2 "International Trade and Foreign Direct Investment".
China joined the WTO in December 2001, and it will likely be drawn even more into the global economy as companies continue to vie for access to its 1.3 billion consumers and cheap and productive labor pool. Most companies expect that dealing with China will now become more straightforward, if not easier. Whatever the future brings, the Chinese economy continues to be a powerhouse of growth and opportunity. CultureQuest Business Multimedia Series: China (New York: Atma Global, 2010); bWise: Business Wisdom Worldwide: China (New York: Atma Global, 2011).
India is officially called the Republic of India and is also known as Hindustan or Bharat. As the seventh-largest country in the world, India spans 1.267 million square miles; it’s about one-third the size of the United States. India shares borders in the northwest with Pakistan; in the north with China, Bhutan, and Nepal; and in the east with Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma). The Indian territory also extends to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal as well as to Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea.
Prior to the mid-1980s, the country pursued a policy of socialism with the state planning and controlling many sectors of the economy. Foreign investment had been discouraged except in the area of technology transfers. Since the early 1990s, India has embarked on an economic liberalization scheme that has proven beneficial to the country.
In 1991, India was on the brink of defaulting on its foreign debt. The government responded with a series of successful measures to initiate widespread economic reforms, including reducing export and import barriers, dismantling some of its swollen bureaucracy, making the currency partially convertible, and eliminating the black market for foreign currency and gold. Efforts were also made to privatize or increase the efficiencies of unprofitable state companies. Finance Minister Manmohan Singh (who later became prime minister) was successful in beginning to dismantle the “License Raj,” an intricate system of government economic control through permits and quotas. Various policies initiated by the government provided a larger role for the private sector and encouraged foreign investment. As a result, investment increased, though at much lower levels than in other Asian countries.
Since the 1990s, central government intervention, licensing, and regulation have decreased, as have bureaucratic inefficiencies. India boasts an established free-market system; a sophisticated industrial and manufacturing base; and a huge pool of skilled, low-to-moderate-cost workers, including professional managers. Economic gains, particularly as a result of further integration into the global economy, have provided improved the standard of living for all communities. The country’s 2.1 percent annual population growth ensures that its population will surpass China’s within the next decade and remains a significant problem for the government, as limited resources threaten the distribution of economic reform benefits.
The country is rich in natural resources, such as rubber, timber, chromium, coal, iron, manganese, copper ore, petroleum, bauxite, titanium, mica salt, limestone, and gypsum. The country is one of the world’s leading producers of iron ore, and coal accounts for nearly 40 percent of all mined minerals. India also has reserves of natural gas and oil, but it remains a net importer of crude oil because its domestic generation is insufficient to meet demand. In addition, India has deposits of precious stones, including diamonds, emeralds, gold, and silver. Cut diamonds are one of India’s biggest exports.
Agriculture remains an important economic sector, contributing roughly 17 percent of the country’s GDP and employing almost 52 percent of the workforce. Major crops include rice, wheat, pulses, sugarcane, cotton, jute, oilseeds, tea, coffee, tobacco, onions, and potatoes. Other important agricultural interests include dairy products, sheep, goats, poultry, and fish.
Until the mid-1960s, India imported much of its food. The Green Revolution focused on improving farming techniques, increasing mechanization, and irrigating as well as introducing high-yielding seeds. All of these have increased agricultural production and made the country self-sufficient in food production. The government also provides incentives to farmers to expand production. Most of India’s farms tend to be small and provide subsistence for the families that operate them. They aren’t geared for commercial purposes. Northern fertile areas, such as those in the state of Punjab, account for much of the export production.
While India has more cattle than any other country, it isn’t farmed for food consumption as Hindus are not supposed to eat beef. The animals are used for a variety of other purposes, including plowing land, producing milk for dairy products, and supplying leather.
The growth of Indian industry, which accounts for about 28.2 percent of its GDP and 14 percent of employment, has resulted in widespread improvements and diversity in the country’s manufacturing base. The major manufacturing industries include cotton and jute textiles; iron, steel, and other basic metals; petrochemicals; electrical machinery and appliances; transport equipment; chemicals; cement; fertilizers; software; medicines and pharmaceuticals; and food products. The power, electronics, food processing, software, transportation equipment, and telecommunications industries are developing rapidly. The financial sector, including banking and insurance, is well developed, although efforts to modernize it are underway.
State-run entities continue to control some areas of telecommunications, banking, insurance, public utilities, and defense, as well as the production of minerals, steel, other metals, coal, natural gas, and petroleum. There have been some steps taken to shift more control to the private sector, although on a gradual and closely monitored scale.
Services account for 54.9 percent of the GDP, but employ only 34 percent of the workforce. The most dramatic change in the economy has come from the computer-programming industry, as companies around the world have turned to India for outsourcing. With its skilled, relatively cheap, and English-speaking professional workforce, India has received a much-needed boost in the form of investment and foreign earnings. This is expected to have continued significant impact on the economy, business environment, and the social values and expectations of the Indian population.
India’s technology firms have gained global recognition. One of the best known is Infosys. Founded in 1981 by seven Indian entrepreneurs, Infosys today is a NASDAQ-listed global consulting and information technology services company—with $5.4 billion in revenues. Throughout twenty-nine years of growth, Infosys, in addition to other well-managed Indian companies, has been well positioned to take advantage of the Indian government’s efforts at economic liberalization that began in the early 1990s. Under this program, the government has systematically reduced trade barriers and embraced globalization. These changes have led to India’s emergence as the global destination for software services talent.CultureQuest Business Multimedia Series: India (New York: Atma Global, 2010); bWise: Business Wisdom Worldwide: India (New York: Atma Global, 2011).
India’s Currency Gets a Visible Promotion
A clear sign of a currency’s importance is its symbol. All of the major global economies’ currencies (e.g., the dollar, pound , euro, and yen) have one. In July 2010, the Indian government announced that there was a new symbol for the rupee. Not yet available on keyboards or any electronic devices, the symbol will replace the often-used Rs. “The symbol is a matter of national pride, underscoring ‘the robustness of the Indian economy,’ said Ambika Soni, India’s Information Minister” to the New York Times.“The Rupee Gets Its Own Mark,” New York Times, July 18, 2010, accessed January 6, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/weekinreview/18grist.html#.
Russia is the largest country in the world, stretching across two continents and eleven time zones. Eleven seas and two oceans wash the banks of this 6.6 million square mile territory. The south and southeast of the country are covered with mountains, and the central part is a plain, furrowed with rivers. Around 7,000 lakes spread over the western part of Russia. The border between Europe and Asia runs down the west side of the Ural Mountains, about 807 miles east of Moscow.
Anyone looking to do business in Russia today needs to comprehend the array of changes that have impacted the nation over the past three decades. Rising to power in the 1980s, General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev was the first leader to end repressive political controls and to suffer nationalist movements in the constituent republics. Gorbachev set the forces in action that would overturn the Communist regime and seal his own expulsion. He relaxed government control on the media and the Russian culture, implementing a policy of glasnost, or openness and candor. Gorbachev also sought perestroika (i.e., restructuring) of the economy and political system that preserved some of the more positive elements of socialism. Gorbachev gained international fame as the head of the Soviet bloc who helped put an end to the Cold War. To reach a common understanding, Gorbachev met repeatedly with US Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, helping broker arms-reduction agreements.
During Gorbachev’s term, Communist regimes began to fall all over Eastern Europe. In an abrupt departure from previous Soviet policy, Gorbachev refused to intervene. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and Gorbachev did nothing to stop it. Sensing weakness, republic parliaments all over the Soviet bloc asserted their sovereignty; a few even went so far as to assert complete independence. In 1991, when Gorbachev attempted to negotiate with the republics, alarmed Soviet leaders attempted a coup. The coup failed, but Gorbachev had lost his political cache to rival Boris Yeltsin, who succeeded Gorbachev as the hero of the era. This changed political, economic, and military dynamics around the world.
While the changes Gorbachev implemented did little to develop the Soviet Union’s struggling economy, he did overhaul Soviet elections by reintroducing multiparty elections in 1989. This essentially invited political dissidents and reform-minded leaders into the parliament. These individuals soon began to challenge Gorbachev’s leadership, pushing him to implement more changes. In 1991, Gorbachev conceded to their demands and installed their leader, Boris Yeltsin, as the president of Russia.
The economic and political challenges the newly independent country faced were considerable. The inefficiency of the Soviet government had left its stamp on every area of the economy. Russia’s industries had to update their technology, retrain their workers, and cut back their workforces. Russians were largely unfamiliar with Western ways of doing business and found it difficult to make the changes mandated by capitalism. Unemployment soared, and the plight of most Russians grew increasingly desperate.
In this climate of desperation, Yeltsin’s government instituted a so-called shock therapy program intended to galvanize the economy by reducing barriers to free trade. These policies, while well intentioned, produced sweeping inflation that almost completely devalued Russian currency. Western newspapers were plastered with images of Russians waiting in long lines, carrying bags of devalued bills. In an attempt to address the crisis, the government introduced a privatization program, which resulted in rampant cronyism and theft of state property.
While the government encouraged the emergence of small businesses and the already-flourishing black-market trade was finally legitimatized, small businesses faced many obstacles inadvertently caused by the government’s inefficiency. The tax system was so disorganized that the government couldn’t obtain the funds necessary to sustain adequate police or military forces. Health care and other basic welfare systems collapsed, and organized crime forced small businesses to make regular payoffs.
As quality of life took a precipitous drop for the majority of the Russian population, the gap between the rich and poor broadened dramatically. But crime lords weren’t the only ones profiting from the gap, the privatization of government assets enabled a few well-placed individuals to turn those assets into their private property. The nouveau richePeople who have acquired substantial wealth in one generation (i.e., new money)., as this class of Russians was called, tended to be ostentatious, and the construction of elaborate mansions at a time when ordinary Russians were suffering, outraged the citizens’ sense of justice.
Since 1991, Russia has struggled to establish a market economy. The country “has undergone significant changes since the collapse of the Soviet Union, moving from a globally-isolated, centrally-planned economy to a more market-based and globally-integrated economy.”US Central Intelligence Agency, “Central Asia: Russia,” World Factbook, accessed January 6, 2011, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/rs.html. Today, Russia has shifted back to a more centralized, semi-authoritarian state. “Economic reforms in the 1990s privatized most industry, with notable exceptions in the energy and defense-related sectors. Nonetheless, the rapid privatization process, including a much criticized ‘loans-for-shares’ scheme that turned over major state-owned firms to politically-connected ‘oligarchs’, has left equity ownership highly concentrated.”US Central Intelligence Agency, “Central Asia: Russia,” World Factbook, accessed January 6, 2011, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/rs.html. Corruption remains a challenge for businesses operating in Russia. New business legislation, including a commercial code and the establishment of an arbitration court to resolve business disputes, has passed. However, the “protection of property rights is still weak and the private sector remains subject to heavy state interference.”US Central Intelligence Agency, “Central Asia: Russia,” World Factbook, accessed January 6, 2011, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/rs.html. However, the system continues to evolve. Additionally, global economic conditions have impacted the value of the ruble and the status of the country’s international debts.CultureQuest Business Multimedia Series: Russia (New York: Atma Global, 2010); bWise: Business Wisdom Worldwide: Russia (New York: Atma Global, 2011).
Russian industry is primarily split between globally competitive commodity producers—in 2009 Russia was the world’s largest exporter of natural gas, the second largest exporter of oil, and the third largest exporter of steel and primary aluminum—and other less competitive heavy industries that remain dependent on the Russian domestic market. This reliance on commodity exports makes Russia vulnerable to boom and bust cycles that follow the highly volatile swings in global commodity prices. The government since 2007 has embarked on an ambitious program to reduce this dependency and build up the country’s high-technology sectors but with few results so far. A revival of Russian agriculture in recent years has led to Russia shifting from being a net grain importerA person or organization that sells products and services that are sourced from other countries. to a net grain exporter. Russia has a highly industrialized and agrarian economy. Almost ten million people are engaged in the agriculture industry. Along with its vast spaces, Russia has always been known for its amazing resources. The country produces 30 percent of the world’s nonferrous, rare, and noble metals; 17 percent of the world’s crude oil; 30 percent of natural gas; and it holds 40 percent of the world’s known natural gas deposits. Today, agriculture accounts for 4.7 percent of the economy, industry represents 34.8 percent, and services total 60.5 percent (based on a 2009 estimate).US Central Intelligence Agency, “Central Asia: Russia,” World Factbook, accessed January 6, 2011, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/rs.html.
Russia, the Summer of 2010 Drought, and Wheat: Understanding the Domino Effect on Countries and Business
Think global business is all about leading-edge, high-tech gadgets, consumer products, or industrial manufacturing items? Think again. Since the early days of ancient trade, commodities, such as wheat, corn, spices, rice, and cotton, have been the primary objects of trade. Even today, wheat and corn, the most basic of foodstuffs across all cultures, can still make governments and economies—developed, developing, and emerging—quiver as a result of natural and unnatural disruptions to their marketplaces. Recently, in the summer of 2010, Russia experienced a crippling drought that led to a four-month ban on all grain exports. “Russia has become an increasingly important force in the global supply of grains and the move reignited fears that nervous governments would begin hoarding their own supplies, potentially causing a shortage….Countries such as Egypt, the world’s number one importer of wheat, which had bought Russian wheat, now must consider other options.”Liam Pleven, Gregory Zuckerman, and Scott Kilman, “Russian Export Ban Raises Global Food Fears,” Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2010, accessed January 6, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703748904575410740617512592.html. Russia provided almost 15 percent of the world’s wheat supply for global exports from the 2009–10 crop. As a result of the ban, many global packaged-foods companies, including Swiss giants, Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund and Coop Schweiz, and British-based Premier Foods, considered possible price increases as a result of the wheat ban.Liam Pleven, Gregory Zuckerman, and Scott Kilman, “Russian Export Ban Raises Global Food Fears,” Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2010, accessed January 6, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703748904575410740617512592.html.
Like China, Russia’s largest companies are either state-run or have state backing, providing the government with access to resources, capital, and markets. Business analysts and investors are eager for the government to privatize more of the largest firms. “The Economic Development Ministry said in July [of 2010] that the privatization list for 2011–2013 included oil pipeline monopoly Transneft, Russia’s largest shipping company Sovcomflot, oil major Rosneft, the country’s largest banks Sberbank and VTB, the Federal Grid Company of Unified Energy System, the Russian Agricultural Bank, hydropower holding company RusHydro and other assets.”“Russia Unlikely to Privatize Largest Companies in 2010,” RIA Novosti, August 30, 2010, accessed January 6, 2011, http://en.rian.ru/business/20100830/160394304.html.
RUSAL is one of Russia’s largest privately held companies. Headquartered in Moscow, RUSAL is the world’s largest aluminum company and accounts for almost 11 percent of the world’s primary aluminum output and 13 percent of the world’s alumina production. The company has aggressively used a strategy of global mergers and acquisition to grow its operations, which now cover nineteen countries and five continents. To raise capital, the company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2010.“Who We Are,” RUSAL, accessed May 18, 2011, http://rusal.ru/en/about.aspx.
South Africa makes up the southern portion of the continent of Africa, from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Indian Ocean in the east. With a total land area of 750,000 miles, including the Prince Edward Islands, the country is the twenty-seventh largest in the world, or approximately the same size as France, Spain, and Portugal combined.
Initially a refueling station for Dutch sailors traveling to the East, South Africa gradually developed an agricultural sector, based on fruit, wine, and livestock production, along the coast of the Cape of Good Hope. All of this changed dramatically with the discovery of minerals in the late nineteenth century. Subsequently, the country emerged as the leading manufacturing and industrial economy on the African continent.
Surging prices for gold and the high demand for base metals and other mineral products propelled the country’s economy after World War II. South Africa was fortunate to have this strong economic base when international sanctions were applied in the 1970s and 1980s.
Nonetheless, import substitution and sanction busting were necessary for economic survival, and the country as a whole became increasingly isolated. A handful of massive corporations controlled most of the country’s wealth and provided the majority of goods and services. The national government controlled those sectors of the economy seen as critical to the national interest of the apartheid state, including transportation, telecommunications, and the media.
South Africa practiced legal racial segregation, under the apartheid systemAn official policy of racial segregation that was practiced in South Africa with social, economic, and political discrimination against anyone who was not white.. In the 1970s, worldwide disapproval of apartheid led to economic sanctions against South Africa. An international oil embargo was imposed in 1974, and the country was suspended from participating in the United Nations. “Disinvestment (or divestment) from South Africa was first advocated in the 1960s, in protest of South Africa’s system of Apartheid, but was not implemented on a significant scale until the mid-1980s. The disinvestment campaign…is credited as pressuring the South African Government to embark on negotiations ultimately leading to the dismantling of the apartheid system.”Wikipedia, s.v. “Disinvestment from South Africa,” last modified February 13, 2011, accessed February 16, 2011, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disinvestment_from_South_Africa.
During the 1980s, there was global political and economic isolation. Many global investment firms pulled out of South Africa as a result of the public outcry and investor pressures against apartheid. While global firms, such as PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, IBM, ExxonMobil, and others, didn’t leave South Africa, they endured public boycotts and protests in their home countries. The moral arguments against apartheid eventually won. After F. W. de Klerk was elected president in 1989, change was immediate. Political prisoners were released, and a national debate was initiated on the future of the country. The ban was lifted on the African National Congress (ANC), and in February 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison after twenty-seven years behind bars. He was elected president in 1994, and to further unite the country, de Klerk agreed to serve as deputy president in his administration.
Following the 1994 election, South Africa’s period as an international outcast came to a swift end. The country was readmitted into the United Nations, and sanctions were lifted. For the first time South Africans could travel freely, had a free press, and participated in truly democratic institutions. Global businesses could once again do business with South Africa without fear of investor or public backlash.
South Africa has emerged as a free-market economy with an active private sector. The country strives to develop a prosperous and balanced regional economy that can compete in global markets. As an emerging-market country, South Africa relies heavily on industrial imports and capital. Specialty minerals and metals, machinery, transport equipment, and chemicals are important import sectors.
Johannesburg, South Africa, is the most powerful commercial center on the African continent.
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Minerals and energy are central to South Africa’s economic activity, and manufacturing, the country’s largest industry, is still based to a large extent on mining. South Africa receives more foreign currency for its gold than for any other single item, although it exports other minerals including platinum, diamonds, coal, chrome, manganese, and iron ore. It is the world’s largest producer of platinum, gold, and chromium. Agricultural products, such as fruit, wool, hides, corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, beef, poultry, mutton, dairy products, and grains, account for 3 percent of its GDP.
Today, industry accounts for 31 percent of the country’s GDP, focusing on mining and automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs, and commercial ship repair.
During the years of apartheid, the economy of South Africa stagnated and appeared directionless. That changed after the election of the Government of National Unity in 1994. The postapartheid government has clear priorities, including economic growth, job creation, and inequality reduction.
Under apartheid, large conglomerates achieved near-cartel status and stifled competition. In many instances, this occurred with tacit government approval, and many promising small companies were bought or forced out of the market by financial muscle. The overall effect was a blunting of innovation and growth throughout the country. Since the end of apartheid, the government has made significant strides in promoting small-business development, in part by offering large corporations incentives to donate funds to small companies.
With the growth of their international market, South African businesses are expanding their focus outward. Companies such as Anglo American and South African Breweries (SAB) are listed on the London Stock Exchange, and Sappi (formerly South African Pulp and Paper Industries), a giant paper concern, has invested in the US market.
As part of its effort to improve South Africa’s business climate, the government has made a strong commitment to privatization. To date, it has sold parts of South African Airways and Telkom (the former telecommunications monopoly), as well as other companies. The government is also offering incentives to overseas companies to partner with disadvantaged community-owned South African enterprises and requires businesses with government contracts to make contributions to social programs.
Since the end of apartheid, corporate life in South Africa has changed dramatically, and the business scene is now evolving at a fast pace. The government is committed to liberalizing the country’s economy in fundamental ways, and corporate culture is changing in response. Programs to encourage economic growth and globalization have attracted new companies from abroad and introduced new approaches to doing business. Companies have also experienced a boost in creative energy. Today, the hallmarks of the South African business culture are change and transformation.
Day to day, doing business in South Africa is relatively easy and becoming easier as regulations are modified to reflect international norms. At the same time, new policies, particularly in matters of employment and labor, are making business life more complex.
While South African society is officially color free, in practical terms there are many areas of business that are still segregated. Overseas companies looking to break into public-sector contract work would be wise to establish joint ventures with companies owned by blacks.
South Africa has one of the highest union-membership rates in the world—a total of 3.2 million workers, or 25 percent of the employed workforce. Although the labor movement has a reputation for militancy, strikes are virtually unheard of since the job market has become so tight, and labor relations have generally improved.
Because of the country’s strong union culture, managers tend to be highly sensitive to union concerns in the workplace, and union issues are never far from the surface in decision making. In fact, unions used rolling mass action to disrupt the apartheid economy, and this weapon is still available.
Services now total 65 percent of the economy. South Africa has a well-developed financial services sector, and the South African Futures Exchange ranks among the top-ten international (i.e., non-US) stock exchanges. Trade with countries on the African continent has been increasing rapidly. Finished goods and prepared foodstuffs, as well as base metals and chemicals, are in particularly high demand.bWise: Business Wisdom Worldwide: South Africa (New York: Atma Global, 2011). Overall, the country has the most-sophisticated market economy on the African continent. Between its economic profile and its well-developed physical infrastructure, South Africa has become an attractive place to do business.CultureQuest Business Multimedia Series: South Africa (New York: Atma Global, 2010).
“For much of the past decade, Asia has been the go-to continent for companies interested in tapping fast-growing economies. Now, Wal-Mart Stores’ agreement on September 27, 2010 to buy South African retailer Massmart Holdings for $4.6 billion may signal a shift toward Africa as another deal-making destination for multinationals.”Renee Bonorchis, “Africa Is Looking Like a Dealmaker’s Paradise,” BusinessWeek, September 30, 2010, accessed January 5, 2011, http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_41/b4198020648051.htm. The deal was Walmart’s largest in a decade, which indicates just how serious global businesses are taking the emerging opportunity in Africa. Other large representative acquisitions include HSBC’s stake in Nedbank Group and Japan’s Nippon Telephone & Telegraph (NTT) purchase of Dimension Data. While these acquisitions are South African companies, it’s only a matter of time until the rest of Africa triggers global commercial interest as well.
With nearly 3.4 million square miles in area, Brazil is about the size of the continental United States and the fifth-largest country in the world. It covers nearly half of the South American continent, and, with the exception of Chile and Ecuador, it shares a border with every country in South America.
Brazil remains Latin America’s largest market, the world’s fifth-most-populous country, and the world’s tenth-largest economy in GDP terms. Government policies for disinflation and income support programs for the poorest families have contributed to a significant reduction in poverty rates and income inequality in recent years. However, poverty remains a stubborn challenge for Brazil.
Brazil’s economic history has progressed in cycles, each focused on a single export item. Soon after the arrival of the first Europeans, wood was the hot commodity. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the scramble was for sugar. Eighteenth-century traders lusted for gems, gold, and silver; and finally, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, coffee was king. Rubber had its day as well. Also of economic importance during these cycles were cattle and agriculture, though they mainly served the domestic market.
Brazil is best known as a leading world producer of coffee and sugar. These commodities, no doubt, enable the country to trade on the world’s stage and remain critical to the Brazilian economy to this day. Brazil is also one of the largest producers and exporters of soybeans, orange juice, cocoa, and tropical fruits. A little known fact, however, is that today, nonagricultural products—namely, auto parts, aircraft, and machinery—bring in more money. Ironically, it’s the oft-maligned industrial programs of the 1960s and 1970s that deserve much of the credit for these successes.
Industry came to Brazil in the mid-1800s. The depression of 1929 threw a wrench in development, but the setback was only temporary; during subsequent decades, expansion was steady. Growth was especially healthy between the 1960s and the oil crisis of 1979. It wasn’t until the 1980s, when interest rates busted the charts, that the economy began its descent. The flow of foreign and domestic capital slowed to a trickle, devaluations played havoc with the national currency, and foreign companies initiated debilitating cutbacks or left the country altogether. Severely handicapped in its ability to invest, Brazil plunged into a period of runaway inflation and negative growth rates. To this day, the 1980s are referred to as “the lost decade.”
In the 1990s, the government honed in on three economic goals: (1) trade reform, (2) stabilizing the economy, and (3) building the country’s relationship with the global financial community. In 1994, Minister of Finance Fernando Henrique Cardoso (often called FHC), launched the Real Plan, which inspired the name for Brazil’s currency (i.e., the real). The plan, with its emphasis on the need for a strong currency, high interest rates, strict limits on government spending, and an opening up of the economy, touched off a boom in Brazil. Foreign capital began pouring in. Brazil’s economic wizards outwitted the forces that wracked Mexico in the mid-1990s as well as Southeast Asia in 1997 and 1998. Their main premise was a strong (i.e., increasingly overvalued) real and spiraling interest rates. However, this premise lost validity in January 1999, when the Central Bank stopped defending the real and let the currency float freely.
Economically, the remainder of the 1990s was a qualified success. In 2001 and 2002, Brazil managed to avoid the fate of its neighbor, Argentina. Nevertheless, the country’s finances remained a disaster. Improved prudent economic policy led to early repayment of IMF loans in 2005 and stabilized the economy. Although Brazil has seen significant rates of economic growth in recent years, this growth hasn’t benefited all sectors or all groups to the same extent. Simultaneously, the economy is undergoing major structural changes as large-scale privatization of formerly state-owned enterprises continues.CultureQuest Business Multimedia Series: Brazil (New York: Atma Global, 2010); bWise: Business Wisdom Worldwide: Brazil (New York: Atma Global, 2011).
Today, “characterized by large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, Brazil’s economy outweighs that of all other South American countries, and Brazil is expanding its presence in world markets.”US Central Intelligence Agency, “Central America: Brazil,” World Factbook, accessed January 7, 2011, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/br.html. Its industry accounts for 25.4 percent of the GDP and focuses on textiles, shoes, chemicals, cement, lumber, iron ore, tin, steel, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, and other machinery and equipment. Agriculture, including coffee, soybeans, wheat, rice, corn, sugarcane, cocoa, citrus, and beef, accounts for 6.1 percent of the economy, while services total 68.5 percent.US Central Intelligence Agency, “Central America: Brazil,” World Factbook, accessed January 7, 2011, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/br.html.
Since 2003, Brazil has steadily improved macroeconomic stability, building up foreign reserves, reducing its debt profile by shifting its debt burden toward real-denominated and domestically held instruments, adhering to an inflation target, and committing to fiscal responsibility. Brazil has also experienced the global “recession, as global demand for Brazil’s commodity-based exports dwindled and external credit dried up. However, Brazil was one of the first emerging markets to begin a recovery.”US Central Intelligence Agency, “Central America: Brazil,” World Factbook, accessed January 7, 2011, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/br.html.
Today, Brazil is home to several global firms. Embraer builds innovative small jets and has become the world’s biggest producer of smaller jet aircraft. The Brazilian food processors, Sadia and Perdigao, exemplify the international entrepreneurship of modern Brazil. Each is a $2 billion enterprise and exports about half of its annual production. Brazil’s abundant resources for producing pork, poultry, and grains and its ideal growing conditions for animal feed provide these companies with many advantages. Both Sadia and Perdigao also have world-class global distribution and supply-chain management systems for product categories in frozen foods, cereals, and ready-to-eat meals.
(AACSB: Reflective Thinking, Analytical Skills)