The rise of the MINT countries

First coined in 2001 by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs, the acronym BRIC, referring to the countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, is today an almost universally recognised entry in the economic dictionary. While the fact that the four countries account for over a quarter of the world’s land mass and are home to more than 40 percent of the world’s population cannot be denied, projections of the future power of the BRIC nations have always differed widely. At one end of the scale there are those that believe that they may overtake the economies of the G7 nations by 2027, while more conservative predictions it will be after 2050 that the combined economies of the BRIC countries will eclipse those of the current richest nations in the world. Either way it is clear that impact of the BRIC countries will continue to be felt for the foreseeable future.

In the meantime, a new neologism has entered the business lexicon, again popularized by O’Neill. The neologism in question is MINT, referring to the economies of Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey, countries that O’Neill and other likeminded economists expect to take up the mantle from the BRIC nations and become the next standout group of emerging nations.

Originally known as MIST, before South Korea was dropped in favour of Nigeria in October 2013, average growth of the MINT economies between 2009 and 2012 was recorded at 4.7 percent by the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook, a figure projected to grow at around 5.2 percent through to 2018. Such a result would see the countries more than keep pace with the BRIC nations, narrowing a gap that has been shrinking since 2009.

So what is it about the aforementioned countries that afford them such high esteem? For starters all four boast large, young and expanding populations, a quality that differs significantly from the likes of China and its rapidly ageing population and one that in theory should lead to increases in domestic consumption in the near future.

The MINT countries also benefit from their respective geographic positions. Mexico has enjoyed increasing demand for exports from the US in recent years, Indonesia lies at the heart of Asia and in close proximity to the likes of China and Australia, Nigeria stands poised to become a hub of Africa’s blossoming economy, while Turkey exists as something of a gateway into Asia and Africa for the European Union.

Despite the positive features the MINT countries possess, a number of concerns and challenges remain that can potential lead to issues for those individuals and organisations looking to commit capital into these respective regions. As is the case for many an emerging market, the MINT countries continue to face issues including bribery and corruption on a large scale, high levels of debt, governance issues, poor infrastructure development and inadequate education systems.

No doubt spurred on by the knowledge that only by being seen to be tackling such issues will alleviate the fears potential investors will have surrounding these issues, leaders of the MINT nations are at least working towards solutions to these challenges. In Mexico a programme of energy reform is well underway, while changes to its education system, fiscal policy and even the structure of its government are in their formative stages.

Meanwhile, Nigeria is taking great strides towards solving a long standing issue, that being energy shortages. For decades now the country has relied solely on gas as its principal energy source and this is a situation that it and the World Bank are hard at work trying to correct. What they both hope will be the answer is the attracting of a $100 million clean technology fund that will help boost the availability and use of renewable energy in the country. Diversification of Nigeria’s energy sector is seen as one of the best ways of bringing investment into the country, thus helping its economy to grow as a result.

Even with the above challenges the advance of the MINT nations seems set to roll on unopposed. According to London-based research service WealthInsight, MINT countries will this year surpass both their BRIC peers and the G8 block in the global race for millionaires. In the service’s study and its list of countries set to create the most millionaires this year, the MINTs are poised to rank within the top eight, led by Indonesia, which is expected to see a 22 percent increase in the number of millionaires this year. Indonesia is then followed by Nigeria with a ten percent increase, Turkey with an 8.5 percent increase and Mexico with a seven percent increase.

BRIC has been a popular phrase in the world of business for some 13 years now, however there is a new group of countries on the scene, each positioned ideally to shine in the way Brazil, Russia, India and China have in the last decade. If current trends continue it goes without saying that the countries of Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey will become increasingly important figures on the global business stage. The big question that leaves us with is what will be the next acronym to take the world be storm?