Posted by: changholt | June 28, 2013

Where’s the next big market?

We always here about the BRICs, but where is the next big market? Is it Mexico, South Africa, of Chile?

Maybe the next market is South East Asia.

Indonesia, the region’s emerging powerhouse? Myanmar, investors’ flavor of the month as it opens to the Western world? Or maybe Thailand, which is rebounding nicely from last year’s epic floods?

Wrong on all the above. The correct answer is Laos, which for years has been overlooked as too small, too complicated, and in many cases just too weird to merit serious attention from mainstream investors.

Yet no economy in Southeast Asia appears to be more immune to this year’s global economic slowdown. Laos is on track to post an impressive 8.3% growth rate in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund, which would almost certainly put it at the top of the table for Southeast Asia given what’s happening elsewhere in the region. Cambodia is on track to come in second with 6.5% growth, the IMF says, followed by Myanmar at 6.2%. Indonesia and Thailand are roughly in the same ballpark.

To be sure, 8.3% growth isn’t exactly going to set investors’ hearts aflutter given that landlocked Laos has Southeast Asia’s smallest economy, and the opportunities for making money there are limited. Road and rail links are limited and the lack of a skilled labor makes Laos a tough bet for large manufacturing operations.

via Business without Borders | Who’s booming now?.

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