The 2018 World's Best Countries: The Top 10 in Asia
From Abe’s Japan to Modi’s India and Duterte’s Philippines, a number of Asian countries rank among the world’s “Best Countries.”
The governments of these countries have pursued the right policies – ones that afford their residents the opportunity to start and nurture a business, live an adventurous life, and enjoy the benefits of citizenship, heritage, and cultural influence.
That’s according to the 2018 U.S. News & World Report, which applies nine criteria to come up with its list of the 80 Best Counties.
The criteria, developed in partnership with WPP’s brand strategy firm BAV Consulting, and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Entrepreneurship, Adventure, Citizenship, Cultural Influence, Heritage, Movers, Power, Open for Business, and Quality of Life.
Some of these criteria are also used to evaluate a country’s growth potential and investment opportunities, and therefore, the U.S. News & World Report country rankings should be of interest to investors.
The list doesn’t break rankings by region, but we compiled one for Asia that includes ten countries.
While ranking average on most criteria, the Philippines is ranking high on the “Adventure” criterion, which weighs for 3.7% of the score and includes such things as “friendly, fun, pleasant climate, and scenic.”
Apparently, Duterte’s Philippines has maintained something from the glory days of the 1960s, though it has been bypassed by one Asian country after another in per capita GDP.
Like the Philippines, Vietnam ranks average in most criteria, but it ranks highly on “Movers,” which counts for 10% of the ranking, and includes such things as “Different, distinctive, dynamic, unique,” which have fueled Vietnam’s robust growth rates.
Investors have taken notice. In the last twelve months, Vietnam’s equity markets were among the top performing markets of Asia.
Like Vietnam, Indonesia receives high grades on “Movers.” But it ranks highly on another criterion, “Open for Business” (Bureaucratic, cheap manufacturing costs, corruption, favorable tax environment, transparent government practices).
A business-friendly environment and falling corruption and debt levels has helped Indonesians catch up with other Asian countries and become better off than Filipinos in per capita income in recent years.
Malaysia’s scoring profile is very similar to that of Vietnam.
That means that the country scores highly in the “Movers” and “Open for Business” criteria, though that hasn’t helped its equity markets, which have been underperforming those of other Asian countries over the last five years.
Thailand scores high on four criteria: “Adventure,”“Movers,”“Heritage” (Culturally accessible, has a rich history, has great food, many cultural attractions), and Open for Business.
Still, Thailand has yet to find its old glory days, remaining an emerging market.
India scores high on three criteria: “Movers,” “Heritage,” and “Power” (A leader, economically influential, politically influential, strong international alliances, strong military).
Meanwhile, India has maintained a stable political and macroeconomic environment, reformed the tax system, and fought corruption with de-monetization.
These policies have helped India’s economy outperform most emerging markets in per capita GDP growth, while bringing inflation and unemployment down.
4. SOUTH KOREA
South Korea receives high score in three areas, “Entrepreneurship” (Open to the global economy, educated population, entrepreneurial, innovative, provides easy access to capital, skilled labor force, technological expertise, transparent business practices, well-developed infrastructure, rule of law), “Power,” and “Movers.
China scores high in four areas, “Power,” “Movers,” “Heritage,” and “Entrepreneurship.”
China’s high scores in all three areas, especially in “Entrepreneurship” is an encouraging sign for the future of the world’s second-largest economy. Entrepreneurship will help China make the next leap forward, from imitation to innovation, which will make its growth sustainable.
Singapore receives high scores in “Movers,” “Entrepreneurship,” “Cultural Influence” (Culturally significant in terms of entertainment, fashionable, happy, has an influential culture, modern, prestigious, trendy), and “Open for Business.”
Topping the list, Japan scores high in all areas, and especially in “Entrepreneurship,” “Movers,” “Power,” and “Cultural Influence.”
Abe’s Japan has been trying to come off two “lost decades,” a period of sluggish economic growth that followed the burst of multiple asset bubbles.
Investors have taken notice. Together with India, Japan’s equity markets have been among the top Asian performing markets over the last five years.
In short, herewith the summary of Top 10's Performing Markets (out of 80 countries get evaluated) in recent years:
Compiled from data taken from US News; and Finance.yahoo.com
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