As Western nations’ economies continue to crumble, many are beginning to see the benefits of a well diversified economy which has a robust industrial base. Countries with these economies have held up better than most no matter what stage their development as industrial jobs stay in demand thanks to growing Asian economies. Resource-rich nations such as Canada and Australia have plowed ahead while Germany, Europe’s industrial powerhouse, has seen far higher levels of growth than its more service oriented counterparts in the euro zone. To dive deeper into this trend, a look at the world’s countries in the CIA World Factbook reveals that some are much more dependent on industry to power their economies going forward. Three of the most industrially-dependent nations are emerging Asian markets that derive nearly 50% of GDP from industrial activities–defined as the production of goods including mining and fuel processing as well as more recognizable industrial sectors such as manufacturing.
This high focus could suggest a few different possibilities to investors: either that the economies are not very developed, that they are intensely focused on resource production, or as evidenced by tremendous growth rates, that they have potentially hit an economic sweet spot and that a high level of manufacturing and industrial production is the key to economic success in the 21st century, especially for emerging markets. For investors subscribing to the final thesis, we have highlighted three of the most industrially dependent nations in the world that have pure play ETFs tracking their economies.
Indonesia; 47.6% Industrial
As a former member of OPEC, Indonesia has vast oil and gas reserves but now uses the crude internally. Regardless, the industry continues to contribute a sizable portion to the country’s GDP, especially now that refining and natural gas production has begun to take off in the country. Indonesia is also quickly becoming a favorite spot for manufacturing plants due to the extremely low cost of labor in the country, which by some estimates is only one-fourth the labor cost of China, and one-seventh the cost in Malaysia.
Currently, there are two ways to play Indonesia with ETFs: the Market Vectors Indonesia Index ETF (IDX) and the iShares MSCI Indonesia Investable Market Index Fund (EIDO). For investors seeking a more established and liquid play, IDX is probably the better choice since it has ten times the volume and close to 50 times more assets under management. For investors who are looking for more diversified exposure, EIDO stands out due to its holding of close to 60 securities, more than double IDX’s 29.
China; 46.8% Industrial
China has become quite famous for its industrial prowess over the past decade and the country has now surpassed Japan as the second largest economy in the world (and also recently passed Germany as the world’s largest exporter). In addition to exports, the country has become a huge producer of a variety of industrial goods including steel, coal, and aluminum. In addition to low value added goods, the country has become a huge producer of automobiles and electronics as well, suggesting that China is beginning to diversify its massive industrial base across a variety of sectors and industries.
While there are a wide variety of ways to play the Chinese market through ETFs, there are a few more focused plays that have the potential to offer more targeted investment into the robust industrial sector of China. Two of the best bets to play this trend are relatively new sector funds from Global X, the China Industrials ETF (CHII) and the China Materials ETF (CHIM). CHII offers investors Chinese companies which work in the engineering and construction, industrial equipment, and the transportation sectors with a heavy focus on large cap securities. Meanwhile, CHIM allocates close to two-thirds of its assets to the metal and mining industry with more of a focus on smaller securities; slightly more than half of the fund is in mid cap companies or smaller, which could offer investors the chance to see these companies grow should the Chinese industry boom continue.
Thailand; 43.3% Industrial
Thailand’s robust industry comes from a large mining sector that produces a variety of minerals in demand across the world, especially resource hungry nations such as China. Thailand has also developed a massive manufacturing industry with automobile production leading the way thanks to plants from Toyota and Ford in the country. In terms of less value-added production, the country still remains a popular location for companies seeking textile production due to the cheap cost of labor and friendly relations with major world powers.
Currently, the best way to invest in Thailand is with the iShares MSCI Thailand Index Fund (THD), which tracks the MSCI Thailand Investable Market Index. In addition to a heavy weighting in financials, the fund offers a 30.8% allocation to energy and a 9.4% weighting to industrial materials. The fund has been one of the performers over the past year, having surged by more than 50% during the past 52 weeks and returning an astounding gain of almost 30% over the last three months.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.
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