Through the evolution of the global economy and ETF marketspace, investors now have access to funds and companies that they may have never even known about only five years ago. Perhaps one of the largest leaps for international investors is the opening up of frontier and emerging markets, a high risk and reward strategy many have used while developed economies are showing slow growth and returns. The new international investors have also done wonders for industries in emerging markets looking for funding, but the general population doesn’t have the time or money for this kind of investing [For ETF industry news, sign up for the free ETFdb Newsletter].
Below, we highlight some of the smallest markets that ETF providers have deemed fantastic investment opportunities and created products around:
The smallest economy with an ETF devoted to it, Vietnam’s GDP for 2011 is reported at $122 billion U.S. dollars. Compared to the United States ($15 trillion) and China ($7.3 trillion) this may not seem like much, but for a country that has mainly worked in agriculture and relied on trade with other Asian nations for goods this is a huge leap forward. Van Eck’s Market Vectors Vietnam ETF (VNM) offers unparalleled exposure to this emerging market’s growing financial and energy sector [also see Beyond The BRIC: Ten Country-Specific Emerging Markets ETFs].
2. New Zealand
Once a British colony, this remote group of islands is one of the smallest developed markets available for investing. With GDP of only $161.9 in 2011, most of this money is coming from the mining trade that the nation heavily relies on, but recent waves of educated professionals to New Zealand have caused renewed interest in other industries. The MSCI New Zealand Investable Market Index Fund (ENZL) offers a total of 25 holdings and a balanced view of the country’s industries.
Another South Eastern group of islands, the Philippines is on its way to the top. With main exports in electronics, semiconductors and copper products, this island’s true resource is its recent overhaul of the education system and retention of these graduates. This recently industrialized country has a current GDP of $213.1 billion and, using the MSCI Philippines Investable Market Index Fund (EPHE), investors around the world can get a piece of this growing economy [see Actionable ETF Trading Ideas].
Focused on services and high tech industrials, this European island is dependent on trade with other nations to sustain its population. The 2008 crash crippled this developed economy, and while other countries are on the road to recovery, Ireland has yet to show signs of hope. MSCI Ireland Capped Investable Market Index Fund (EIRL) is great for investors who think the $217.7 billion in GDP and past durability means that Ireland will soon get back on its feet [see Free Report: How To Pick The Right ETF Every Time].
Full of countries primarily listed on the Egyptian Exchanges or that make 50% or more of their revenues in the country, the Egypt Index ETF (EGPT) has been one of the best performing country ETFs over the last year. Even as this North African nation rebuilds its government after ousting long-term president Hosni Mubarak, its economy trucks on and so far seems to have benefited from new leadership.
As one of South America’s most sustainable and prosperous nations with $248.4 billion GDP, the Chilean economy barely even felt the 2008 economic downturn. Living standards, education and the nations it trades with are growing every day, while surrounding nations like Argentina and Bolivia are still trying to reduce their inflation rates. The MSCI Chile Index Fund (ECH) is a good indicator of this country’s growth, as it measures the performance of the Chilean equity market [see ECH Realtime Rating].
With the second-largest number of start-up companies in the world and the largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies outside of North America, this $242.9 billion GDP country is the largest of the small economies. Excluding its highly educated population, Israel also sees a lot of income from its huge tourism businesses, as its deeply religious past draws Christians, Jews and Muslims from around the world. The MSCI Israel Capped Investable Market Index Fund (EIS) tracks the ever-growing equity market.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.