Increase in trade and demand for commodities boost rapid-growth markets

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  • RGMs set for 5.4% growth in 2013 but significant differences between emerging Asia and rest of the world

An increase in intra-regional trade, easing of monetary and fiscal policy, and higher demand for commodities will lead to an improvement in the economic outlook for the rapid-growth markets (RGMs) in 2013, according to Ernst & Young’s quarterly Rapid-Growth Markets Forecast (RGMF) (pdf, 670.9kb) released today.

Despite the forecast of 25 leading rapid-growth countries showing a slight dip last year due to slow global growth, recording 4.7% growth the RGMs have now started to regain momentum. The forecast expects growth in the 25 markets to collectively accelerate to 5.4% in 2013 and then 6.4% in 2014. This is in comparison to the lackluster performance of the developed markets – particularly the Eurozone, which is expected to shrink by 0.3% this year.

Alexis Karklins-Marchay, Co-Leader of the Emerging Markets Center at Ernst & Young comments:

 “Business and political leaders alike may exhale a sigh of relief. The slowdown of rapid-growth markets during 2012 seems to be merely a stumble from which they are now recovering. They are becoming the locomotives of a global recovery in which developed economies will be the laggards.”

Carl Astorri, Senior Economic Adviser to Ernst & Young’s Rapid Growth Markets Forecast explains:

“RGMs have proved that they are more resilient than in the past. Despite experiencing slower growth last year, the increase in intra-RGM trade and the easing of monetary and fiscal policy has allowed them to grow once again.”

Trade-oriented RGMs regain faster momentum

All of the RGMs have reduced trade barriers over the last 20 years, opening their economies to trade and the sharing of knowledge. This has continued to have a positive impact on their economies.

In the final quarter of 2012 encouraging signs started to emerge that the more trade-oriented RGMs, particularly those in Asia and Latin America, were picking up pace due to a combination of an improvement in intra-RGM trade and the impact of steps taken earlier in 2012 to ease monetary and fiscal policy.

The forecast shows that during the next 10 years bilateral trade between the emerging Asian economies will continue to increase as demand rises for more sophisticated consumer products from the expanding middle classes.

Soft landing in China has helped emerging Asia

China has soft landed as expected with clear evidence emerging that the slowdown is coming to an end. The forecast predicts that growth will accelerate to 8.3% in 2013 and 9% in 2014.  The fall in activity experienced last year was mainly cyclical, due to earlier tightening of domestic policy and weakness in key export markets such as Europe.

The successful soft landing is already beginning to have a positive impact on the other RGMs. As the recovery broadens across Asia, RGMF forecasts faster growth in Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.
Expansionary fiscal policies in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have continued to boost investment and support consumer spending, enabling these economies to maintain strong growth. Since last quarter’s forecast, 2013 growth estimates have increased for Malaysia and Thailand by at least 0.5%.

As China continues to move up the value chain further opportunities will become available for lower cost Asian producers. Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam are expected to increase their combined share of the world textile market from around 5% currently to more than 10% over the next 25 years.

Growth in emerging Asian economies boosts other RGMs

As well as boosting Asian markets, the economic growth in China will help to lift African and Latin American economies as the demand for commodities increases. Such benefits are likely to range from increased purchase of cocoa to assuage rising chocolate consumption, to oil and other minerals to power manufacturing and construction.

Growth in Latin America is expected to be driven by Brazil and Argentina. Mexico, which suffered less than other regional markets in 2012, will also benefit from its strong trade links with the US, where import demand is forecast to pick up in 2013.

RGMF predicts that both Ghana and Nigeria will grow by more than 6% in 2013, helped by stronger demand for commodities from emerging Asia.

However, due to their strong trading and financial links with the relatively depressed Eurozone, the emerging-European RGMs are likely to lag behind their Latin American and Asian counterparts in 2013. Only a muted acceleration in the growth rate of emerging Europe from 2.3% in 2012 to 2.9% in 2013 is forecast.

South Africa: strong growth potential despite challenges

Much like the rest of the rapid-growth markets South Africa suffered a slight dip in growth last year falling to 2.5% however, that is once again expected to pick up to 3% this year. According to Michael Lalor, Director of of Ernst & Young’s Africa Business Center, “Although the immediate outlook for South Africa may be fairly downbeat, we expect growth in the economy to accelerate to around 4% p.a. over the medium term. This compares favorably to both developed countries and emerging markets, with Brazil on a par and the US, UK, Poland and Russia all expected to lag behind over the next decade. Underpinning this is a strong track record of sound economic management, as well as favorable economic fundamentals including a growing working age population, a wealth of natural resources and a favourable geographic position to be a platform for investment into the rest of the African continent.”

Although challenges do remain about growth in South Africa due to external factors such as weak growth in the Eurozone, a key export market, and internally a slight fall in consumer spending, it is expected to remain a rapidly growing economy. The execution of the National Development Plan, further measures towards regional integration to increase intra-African trade and bridging the regional infrastructure deficit will keep South Africa on a steady path to growth.

Looking ahead

Alexis concludes: “The outlook for the RGMs looks very positive. The majority of the markets have proved to be resilient to the recent global slowdown. However, it is important that they focus on political stability, stable and prudent macroeconomic policy, high capital investment and a well balanced trade policy to reflect the changing face of the global economy.”

Notes to Editors

The quarterly Ernst & Young Rapid-Growth Markets Forecast is a macroeconomic forecast co-produced with Oxford Economics. It aims to fulfill the need for practical and accessible economic forecasts and insights on the development of 25 rapid-growth countries around the world. These countries have been selected on three key criteria: they should be large, both in terms of GDP and demographics; they should be dynamic, rapidly growing countries; and should be of strategic importance for business development. Our forecast is based on Oxford Economics’ Global Econometric Model and provides both analysis of the implications for corporations doing business in rapid-growth markets and recommendations for decision-makers. Follow the development by tuning in to our quarterly webcast debate and by visiting

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