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Asian countries sparkle in Agility's emerging markets rankings

MALAYSIA, Bangladesh and Vietnam are among the top performers in Agility's annual logistics industry rankings, still dominated by China and India in first and second place in the 50-country index.

Malaysia ranks No 4 after UAE, despite the fact that at least 16 other emerging markets countries in the 2018 Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index. 

Bangladesh, a garment-industry powerhouse with six per cent GDP growth for seven consecutive years, jumps four spots to No 23. Only Egypt, up from No 20 to No 14 gained as many points. 

The index, in its ninth year, is a broad gauge of economic competitiveness that includes a survey of more than 500 logistics industry professionals.

The data-driven ranking of 50 emerging markets countries is done by size, economic strength, infrastructure, transport connections and business climate.

These are factors that make them attractive to logistics providers, freight forwarders, shipping lines, air cargo carriers and distributors, said the UK's Transport Intelligence that conducted the survey.

"The economies of the Asia-Pacific region remain the most dynamic in the world," said Essa Al-Saleh, CEO of Kuwait-based Agility Global Integrated Logistics. 

"They are growing more resilient and sophisticated as they deepen their integration and become more inter-dependent," he said.

Key Index and Survey HighlightsIn the survey, supply chain industry executives pick Vietnam third - after India and China - as the emerging market where their companies were most likely to invest.

Executives surveyed are especially bullish about India, in spite of first-half 2017 economic slowdown that followed adoption of sweeping tax reforms and the disruption caused by a surprise move to introduce new bank notes. More than 37 per cent of those surveyed say their companies are considering investment in India, up from 23 per cent a year earlier.

More than half (56.4%) of industry executives surveyed say they believe Amazon will overcome its struggles and grow its paltry 1.3 per cent market share in China, where homegrown Alibaba and JD.com dominate the world's largest e-commerce and online retail market.

Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the Philippines were among countries where the business climate or Market Compatibility deteriorated in a year-to-year basis. 

In the Market Connectedness category, which measures quality of infrastructure and transport connections, Sri Lanka and Thailand were among the countries whose rankings declined.

Supply chain professionals are sharply split about whether a new NAFTA agreement would help Mexico (24.3%); hurt Mexico (21.8%); or leave trade broadly unchanged (25.7%).

Logistics executives are unconcerned, for now, that emerging markets economies will be harmed by Brexit. Nearly 45 per cent say emerging markets will be unaffected; 25.4 per cent say emerging markets could gain from Brexit through expanded market access.

A year ago, nearly 69 per cent expressed concern that Brexit and the failure of various trade initiatives were a threat to trade.

Fifty-five per cent of those surveyed say small and medium-sized businesses - those with fewer than 250 employees - will benefit most from emerging markets growth. Twenty-six per cent said large companies would be the biggest beneficiaries.

Myanmar, No 47 in the overall index, appears for the first time among the 20 countries logistics executives see as a potential logistics market in the next five years. It jumps to No 16 from No. 38 a year ago. Bangladesh climbs to No 20 from No 27.

Gulf countries continue to dominate the top of the rankings when it comes to be emerging markets business conditions. UAE, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain outpaced all other countries. 

Saudi Arabia was No 8; Kuwait was No 16. Gulf countries also rank toward the top in quality of infrastructure and transport connections: UAE (1), Bahrain (5), Oman (6), Saudi Arabia (7) and Qatar (8) were top performers.
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