Every situation is different, but…..

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During our planning phase we will explore a number of considerations specific to your product, international diversification opportunities and strategic objectives, as well as general trends.  Our election of markets, prioritization and justification will depend on those and will use empirical tools such as the handy Emerging Market – Market Potential Index from Global Edge.  However, just as we encourage companies to leverage the huge opportunities beyond Canadian export, we strongly reject the routine, reflexive tendency to jump to China, India & Brazil as their initial international diversification foray.

Below you will find a general overview of our current thoughts on regions – and some specific countries in each.  You’ll note that China, India & Brazil are broken out as separate regions, as is Turkey.  You will also see some unusual groupings – we look at opportunities differently than some.  This is simply a trend overview and isn’t conclusive.  For instance someone with very strong personal, family and business connections in Germany, and a product which is appropriate for a conservative culture and economic environment (e.g. green technology) could very well identify that as a promising and high-profile market – even in current conditions.

Our “Top Level” Guidance – We contend markets can generally be categorized (subject to company, product and target specifics) as STRONGCAUTION & AVOID

Western Europe

Stay clear.  Way too much uncertainty.  Substantial political risk.  Likely FX disturbances.

Germany will likely be most stable market.

Africa

Africa promises to be the “emerging market” of the 2020s.  Although there is some risk that it, like Brazil was, perennially the next great market waiting to become great, it is well positioned to develop.  Infrastructure and corruption challenges will need to be overcome but the best opportunities exist for companies who proactively engage the region despite known barriers.  It is impossible to predict which country(ies) will navigate the treacherous political and religious risks to emerge as leaders.  Therefore it is important to establish an African foothold in the most stable country currently – South Africa and to diversify.  Assessing opportunity, stability and security, West Africa is our focus, and we believe Ghana is best positioned.  (See the DoC Africa Portal.)

Asia

Likely to be impacted by Chinese “hard landing” and also by Russian resurgence of influence and Japanese stagnation.  Possible bright spots include Korea (with Oct ’11 FTA and Taiwan.)  In general, though, the globe provides numerous of other appealing opportunities.

Brazil

barrons-brazil-cover-7-nov-11

Similar to India.  Although somewhat closer (only 3 hours from Miami to Manausbut 10 hours from Chicago to Sao Paulo) travel is expensive.    English is not widely used.  It has a rapidly growing middle class and also frequent FCPA concerns.  Bureaucracy is capricious.

Not a beginners’ market.  Likely time from initial activity to payment for initial order – up to 3 years.

More Brazil info

Eastern Europe

Some interesting opportunities.  Watch Russian moves to reassert influence.  Select countries carefully.  EU ascension and currency considerations.

Poland is interesting for many companies.

China

Too much political and financial risk.  Too much competition.  Likely “hard landing” which will substantially affect the market opportunity for the next decade.  Likelihood of internal political dislocations and “saber rattling” with US.  So many other great opportunities – a small presence may make sense here to be a “local” provider and be positioned for opportunities, but active focus will be more fruitful elsewhere.  (See note onTaiwan below – could be an appealing way to play the Chinese market in some cases.)

India

Has huge potential for many products.  ”English” speaking.  Exploding middle class.  Democracy (world’s largest.)  FCPA challenges.  Extremely price competitive.

Not a beginners’ market.  Likely time from initial activity to payment for initial order – up to 5 years.

More India info

Commonwealth Countries

These countries (Oceana & Canada) are relatively familiar business environments.  Familiar language and legal environments facilitate trade as does NAFTA in the case of Canada.  All are dependent on extractive industries and demand for commodities and petroleum impact the economic environment – and FX crosses.  Populations are relatively small and growth isn’t explosive.  Decent markets for incremental growth, but don’t have potential for “home runs.”

MENA

This is a wildcard.  Talk about risks!  Yet demographics are favorable.  This region offers some stable, almost western locales (Dubai/UAE and Qatar), some dynamic tech hubs (Israel) and at least one market with huge potential.  (Only time will tell if Egypt can realize the potential which many believe it has.)

Southeast Asia / ASEAN

One of the most dynamic areas in world now.  Likely will take hit in current economic downturn but will likely emerge fastest.  Strong emphasis from US Commercial Service (Trade Winds – Asia mission, webinars, etc.)

Attractive Markets include:

Latin America

Dynamic, exciting opportunity.  Far more heterogeneous than often perceived by Americans.  Each country has character and culture, and of course different language in Brazil.  Mexico is comfortable within NAFTA framework.  Political trends (and risk of nationalization as seen in Venezuela and Argentina – and in extractive industries in Chile & Peru) merit close attention.  Colombia & Panama offer welcoming & stable business environment and with the FTAs (Oct 2011) both are appealing and potentially advantageous places to establish a Latin American presence.

Turkey

This is a real wildcard.  It has experienced substantial growth, is positioned (as has benefited it for millenia) at the nexus of East & West, has aspirations to join the EU and has developed economic heft over recent years.  Nevertheless there is substantial political risk and uncertainty about how Turkey’s leaders will navigate the coming years.  Learn more.