Failure to undertake key structural reforms during the past decade have damaged Brazil and Russia’s economic competitiveness, while significant population growth in India and urgent measures taken by China’s government to reorient the country towards a consumption-led development model have made India and China the top two growth markets for 2014, according to risk analyst Maplecroft’s 2014 Growth Opportunities Atlas.

The latest Atlas, which evaluates the economic growth prospects for the next 20 years of 173 countries, reveals that Brazil and Russia fell from last year’s ranking of sixth and 11th place respectively to 32nd and 52nd place this year.


By contrast, India’s upwardly mobile population and the Chinese government’s extensive efforts to support its working classes have enabled both countries’ middle classes to swell in number. Both countries are growth markets for businesses operating in the retail, construction and finance sectors. China in particular was highlighted as a significant opportunity for businesses: Maplecroft predicts that between 2010 and 2025 the country’s middle class will grow by an average annual rate of 22.5%.

Indonesia is the third largest economy in Asia, its high placing due largely to the government’s efforts in diversifying its economy and to reducing trade dependence on China. Malaysia and Bangladesh were placed forth and fifth respectively. South Korea and Singapore, which ranked eighth and 10th respectively, were the only high-income countries in the Maplecroft’s top ten markets, and South Korea’s leadership as a global research and development hub was highlighted as giving businesses a significant competitive edge.

Ongoing political uncertainty in the US, particularly after the 16-day government shutdown in October and the Federal Reserve’s decision to taper its $85bn-a-month bond-buying program pushed the US down to 16th place. Egypt and Yemen registered the most notable drops in the index, ranking at 43rd and 170th respectively. Continued political instability in Egypt, including the military coup that ousted President Mohammed Morsi, and concerns around the military threat posed by Al Qaeda’s presence in Yemen left the two countries among the lowest ranked Middle East and North African countries in the Atlas.

In contrast, sub-Saharan Africa’s rapidly growing population and natural resource discoveries have led Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana to rise through the rankings to 12th, 18th and 21st place respectively. But a poor business and political environment, notably in countries like Nigeria and Uganda, continues to be a drag on the region’s overall competitiveness, and Maplecroft maintains that governments must take more action to boost domestic and consumption-led growth.