Promise and Potential
Four international economic trends to watch in the next five years
- While various other sectors hold significant promise, the electric vehicle industry seems to be the one with the largest odds of drawing a sizable return on investment. Despite Tesla drawing the bulk of the market share at present, Asian legacy automakers such as Nissan are performing strongly, GM is putting in strong competition on an international level and Volkswagen could conceivably bounce back from its recent woes through its ambitious EV plans. It is also worth noting that local startups in markets such as China could provide acute long-term vulnerabilities for foreign automakers in due course. It is especially worth watching whether the EV market becomes tied in with China’s One Belt One Road initiative.
- Central Asia has been central to global trade and commerce for millennia, and Beijing’s bid to restore the fabled Silk Road to its erstwhile prominence appears to be proceeding apace, and perhaps at a speedier clip, despite temporary setbacks caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Kazakhstan is furthest along on the curve where economic development is concerned, especially with regard to its natural resources sector. That said, the region on the whole remains largely untouched in terms of its gargantuan economic potential. Uzbekistan’s nascent economic liberalization schemes are similarly noteworthy, especially in light of local markets such as energy, agriculture and agriculture-adjacent fields. Tajikistan may well be the most underrated of Central Asian economies, as its vast water reserves will likely mushroom in value in the coming decade in the event that such commodities become more scarce as is expected. Indeed, some speak of data as the new oil, but it may be no less accurate to state that water and strategic metals could be the new oil.
- Southeast Asia is more developed than some other emerging regions such as Central Asia yet is of no less significance. Indonesia appears to be furthest along on the curve where the region’s economies are concerned, with its palm oil sector and its coal sector being among the most established industries, both of which seem to hold promise. Similar industries in Malaysia also appear poised for further upside. Cambodia is not as far along as Vietnam or Indonesia where economic development is concerned yet holds promise due in large part to sizable Chinese investment.
- The Latin America oil boom has been of note since at least 2015 yet is increasingly manifesting itself at the time of writing through sizable discoveries and resultant increases in investment by oil majors. French Guiana, Curacao, Trinidad & Tobago and the Virgin Islands may well be underrated in this regard at the time of writing. It is also conceivable that the concurrent boom in Brazil could converge with that to the north in the Caribbean basin in a manner akin to that which the Middle East experienced in the early 20th century.