Three Countries With the Most Economic Growth Potential

The Best Investments Aren't Always Obvious

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Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, and Nepal were the three fastest-growing economies in 2017, according to the World Bank, moving at 8.3 percent, 7.6 percent, and 7.5 percent, respectively. However, not all of these countries represent great investment opportunities. For example, many of these countries face a high level of political risk that Western investors may want to avoid.

But, instead of just looking at raw growth in gross domestic product (GDP), investors should seek high-growth economies that are also well-diversified in terms of what the country produces and exports. For instance, India's economy was the fourth fastest growing in the world in 2017 and is also very well-diversified.

In this article, we’ll take a look at three promising countries that are all poised for significant and diversified growth over the coming years.

India: An Alternative to China

India has the world’s seventh largest economy, with a nominal GDP of around $2.6 trillion in 2017, with economists projecting 7 percent growth in 2018. After significant free market economic reforms in the 1990s, the country’s economic growth has propelled it into one of the world’s most influential economies, and a member of the so-called BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) nations.

Currently, India’s primary obstacle to sustainable growth is the economic slowdown of its peers—including China—as well as changes being made in the way that it calculates economic statistics that has drawn some criticism among investors. Many other regulatory challenges may also be hampering growth, although many investors and international firms agree that the country offers great long-term investment opportunities.

Investors looking to add Indian exposure to their portfolios should consider:

  • iPath MSCI India ETN (NYSE: INP)
  • WisdomTree India Earnings Fund (NYSE: EPI)
  • iShares S&P India Index Fund (NYSE: INDY)

Ethiopia: Africa's Shining Star

Ethiopia has a relatively small economy, with a nominal GDP of just $80.6 billion in 2017, but many economists believe it could become the world's fastest growing. While agriculture represents nearly half of its economy, the country's major strides in massive agricultural investment has dramatically accelerated growth. The government has also committed to pro-poor spending aimed at halving its poverty rate and making the most of its growing workforce. In fact, it has been the fastest growing economy in the world for four years straight.

On the downside, critics believe that the country's stability is due to systematic repressive practices that have prevented competition within national and local politics. These practices could result in a higher geopolitical risk for international investors, while the market's relatively small size and undeveloped equity markets mean that securities are likely to be more volatile and risky than many developed countries, like the U.S. and European Union constituents.

Investors looking to add Ethiopian exposure to their portfolios should consider:

  • Market Vectors Africa ETF (NYSE: AFK)
  • Frontier Markets ETF (NYSE: FRN)
  • Nyota Minerals (OTC: NYOTF)

Ireland: Fueled by the Low Euro

Ireland has become one of the eurozone's most promising economies, with a nominal GDP of $326 billion, making it the 35th largest in the world. While the country has suffered through its share of financial crises, including a property bubble and the global financial crisis, the economy has rapidly recovered thanks to the European Central Bank's easy money policy following the 2008 financial crisis that helped lower the value of the euro.

Ireland's government predicts that GDP will continue to expand by around 6 percent, matching 2014's post-crash record and maintaining the firm as the fastest growing economy in the eurozone. The improving economy could also lead to calls for tax cuts and spending increases that could accelerate the country's growth over the coming years.

Investors looking to add Ireland exposure to their portfolios should consider:

  • iShares MSCI Ireland Capped ETF (NYSE: EIRL)

The Bottom Line

International investors looking beyond the United States for higher returns have a number of different options, but they may want to look beyond headline growth rates for diversified economies that have sustainable long-term growth potential. The three aforementioned countries fit this criteria and U.S. investors can easily partake in their growth using a variety of different ETFs.