Friday 3 January 2014


Thirteen years ago, Jim O’Neill, former chief economist and head of asset management at Goldman Sachs, coined the term BRIC for four countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) poised to join the G6 in the economic big time. South Africa, added later, made it BRICS. Then, 11 emerging countries, including Iran, South Korea and Pakistan, were singled out as the N11 (Next-11).

Now O’Neill is back, marking out four countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) from the N11 as ones to watch for huge economic growth.

‘If they get their act together, they’ve got the ability to get so much bigger,’ said O’Neill of the MINT countries, the subject of his upcoming BBC radio series, MINT: The Next Economic Giants (Radio 4, January 6 to 9 at 9am). ‘If not as big as the BRICs, then not that far off.’

Mexico, O’Neill argues, previously lost out to China on cheap exports and labour. But with wages increasing in China, Mexico can capitalise, especially with its proximity to the US..

‘It’s probably the most competitive OECD country at the moment,’ said O’Neill. ‘And these guys have a bunch of young reformers who make Maggie Thatcher look like a pussycat.’

Indonesia has a chance to boom, like Mexico, because of a large, willing workforce and a rapidly urbanising population, said O’Neill. ‘There are 240m of them in Indonesia, the third largest populated country in the world.’

Turkey, meanwhile, benefits from its geographical position between East and West and ‘because they know how to deal with us in the West, with the Middle East, with the Russians’.

But the most exciting MINT country, O’Neill suggests, is Nigeria. ‘The place is complete madness, of course, and one can’t be 100 per cent sure, given its challenges, that it will be one country in four years. But after India, it’s the best in the world in terms of useful population. By 2050, Nigeria will have more people than the United States. If you get those young people in productive jobs, that place will arguably be the most exciting country in the world in the next 30 years. Linked to that, there are so many creative entrepreneurs there and, interestingly, so many educated Nigerians returning from the US because they smell this opportunity to be the next big thing.’ Nigeria is also rich in resources, including oil.

Continue reading: metro

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