Do the MINTs Suck?

Just as we were getting used to the BRICS, they appear to own yesterday’s acronym, with the emergence of a new emerging nation cluster – once again devised by Goldman Sach’s Jim O’Neill. The MINTs (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) are clearly not on the same scale as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in terms of wealth or population, but O’Neill seems to think they have great expansion potential. Of course, if the MINTs become the new bloc on which to kid, that might have consequences for South Africa, as we in ZA are the ‘S’ in the BRICS – even though many don’t think we are a natural fit. Do our experts think the MINTs are meaningful?

Martyn Davies from Frontier Advisory:

Yet again, economic commentators seek to create acronyms that are intended to somehow guide investment in what remains a very complex and uncertain global economy. The BRICS was nothing more than an intended indicator of future consumer demand in emerging economies with sizeable populations; the MINTs appears now to be the B-Team of emerging markets. Once again South Africa has been excluded. I doubt that members of the MINTs will be motivated to create a political bloc like their forerunners in the BRICS have. I also doubt that they’ll be inviting South Africa to join, either!

International Relations consultant John Mare:

I think it is not unexpected that the MINTs have now come into the spotlight as epitomising the cutting edge of rapidly expanding economies/markets in the world and that Jim O’Neill should have again coined (or minted ?) the word “MINT” for the group. As with the BRICS, in which SA membership has generally been accepted – as being the best developed anchor economy for accessing the economies of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) – the MINTs are rapidly growing economies with varying combinations of larger than usual land area, populations and (especially as regards I and N) vast resources along with strongly developing sophisticated economies. As with BRICS they occupy important geo-strategic locations. Nevertheless, while the economies of the BRICS have seemingly suffered in recent months those of the MINTs have not suffered as much. In addition the MINTs are not global heavyweights like the members of the BRICS in many politico-economic-strategic dimensions – which made them the obvious choices to lead the new wave of so-called emerging economies to challenge the “North” – the traditionally developed world – for domination in the global community. Remember that the BRICS contain (i) two long-standing global super-powers (China and Russia) offering long standing challenges to the “West” and (ii) the most populous country on earth second to China, ie India, which has tried to be a prime leader of the “Third World” and “Non-Aligned Movement” against the “West” since the Bandung conference. The MINTs do not have the traditional political baggage to slow them down in any way, nor the enormous sizes of the original BRIC members – which come with their own logistical challenges. Nor do they have the apparent ongoing fractured and troubled nature of key aspects of SA – despite it inheriting a wonderful platform to lead SSA into the 21st century in 1994. As such, the MINTs have flexibility on many fronts to use their favourable locations/populations/resources and so on for further strategic growth nationally, regionally and in the global dimension. Given the above I see greater success for and in the MINTs in the coming decade, on all fronts. To give some detail: Nigeria is increasing its position as an alternative to SA as the “prime” platform to access the SSA economy, especially re Western Africa and the EU/North Atlantic community . One day Kenya, in the more integrated Eastern African region now rising, will be a logical third “hub” for business in SSA – especially vis-à-vis the Middle East/Asia. Naturally there are other potential exceptional BRICS, MINTs and hubs/anchors, as things now stand. Some such as Ukraine are on the brink of making it, while others such as the DRC may wait for decades.

Craig Pheiffer from Absa Investments:

It seems the latest sport is working out acronyms for developing market groupings. We’ve had the BRICS and the CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa) and Jim O’ Neill’s “Next Eleven” and now the MINT countries. Mostly these acronyms reflect groupings of emerging market countries that are expected to show strong economic growth over the coming decades. That’s how BRIC and more recently BRICS came about. Economists and Heads of State frequently argue over inclusion or exclusion from these theoretical groupings. The one difference with the BRICS, though, is that the five countries have formed an organisation, the BRICS Forum, to actively promote trade among themselves and improve co-operation between the five states at various levels. At the recent BRICS Summit in SA the organisation also set in motion the process of creating a BRICS Bank. The BRICS countries will continue their annual get-togethers with their sixth annual summit in Brazil this year. This active collaboration is what currently differentiates the BRICS from other groupings sprouting forth from research articles and economic journals.

Duane Newman from Cova Advisory:

I am a bit sceptical of this new acronym – MINTs. I am struggling to understand the need for such a new, small grouping. The linkages between these countries are tenuous at best, and their growth potential is subject to so many factors.

Conclusion:

The BRICS have accepted the role suggested for them as leaders of the Emerging Nations. The MINTs are still in mint condition, in terms of this degree of political will and economic momentum. The concept of the MINTS may need to be sucked on for a while before we discern its true flavour.

Tweet of the Day:

Jonathan Jansen (@JJ_UFS): If you had 10 children in grade 1 and only 4 made it to grade 12, would you be celebrating?

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