Emerging Economies Essay

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Emerging economies are generally known as the largest, wealthiest, and fastest-growing of the developing countries.  Emerging economies  are typically economies in transition,  moving from a closed to an open economy, undergoing far-reaching economic reforms as they  seek to  integrate  into  the  world  economy. This transition,  however,  can  be tenuous  as political or economic turmoil  threatens  to impede movement  toward  open  markets.  These economies  may grow rapidly, but they can make for risky economic investments  because of political instability, inequality, social unrest, and the potential for financial crises. Often, these countries present sharp contrasts of cutting-edge technology and relative prosperity coexisting beside stark poverty and poor infrastructure.

Their growth  is due primarily  to the  use of new energy, telecommunications, and  information  technologies as well as rapid industrialization.  China, for example,  is already  moving  away from  low-skilled manufacturing as it ships those jobs offshore to Vietnam, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. It is expected that by 2020, the five biggest emerging markets’ share of world output  will be 16 percent, up from 7.8 percent in 1992. They will also become more significant consumers  than industrialized  countries  due to their fast-growing  populations  and  rise in the  countries’ middle-class. While industrialized  countries  will add about 100 million more middle-income consumers by 2020, the developing world will add over 900 million, and China alone will add 500 million.

In the  past  five years, China,  India,  and  Russia, together with other fast-growing economies mostly in Asia and Latin America, have averaged almost 7 percent growth compared  with the industrialized  countries’ 2.3 percent.  It is expected  that  by the middle of the new century, Russia, India, China, and Brazil together  could be larger than  the combined  economies of the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy. China alone could be the world’s second-largest  economy  by the  end  of the second decade of 2000 and could surpass the United States by 2050, with India predicted to follow.

In the 1980s, the emerging economies were mainly the “Asian Tigers” and some Latin American  countries. In recent years, the largest developing countries of Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, and China, known as BRIC or BRIMC, are viewed as the primary emerging economies. Other countries considered emerging economies include Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, Poland, Turkey, Indonesia,  Chile, and South  Korea. Due to their rapid growth, the United Arab Emirates, Chile, Malaysia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and the Philippines form the next wave of emerging markets.

Emerging economies  are expected  to change the face of global economics  and  politics, as they gain increased stature  in the world political arena and as the world increasingly relies on them to drive future growth. Their growth has resulted in calls for the largest of them to conform to greenhouse  gas emissions limits, something they were exempt from doing in the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol (2008–12) in order to give them a chance to catch up with the economic development of the industrialized world.

Competition from  the  emerging  economies  will force developed countries  to find areas of comparative advantage to ensure their own economic growth, whether  it be specialized technologies  of high value or commodities, requiring the retraining  of their workforce  to meet  these  specializations,  something the developed countries do well. Whether  the potential of emerging economies can be realized depends in large part on their ability to invest in their growing populations,  government  stability, and commitment to open markets, none of which are certain.


  1. John Hawksworth, The World in 2050: How Big Will the Major Emerging Market  Economies Get and How Can the OECD Compete? (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, 2006);
  2. Chuan Li, “What Are Emerging Markets?” The University of Iowa Center for Finance and  International Development,    uiowa.edu/ifdebook    (cited   March 2009);
  3. L. Wince-Smith,  “Emerging Economies Coming on Strong,” Issues in Science & Technology (v.23/3, 2007).

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