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O'Neill says BRIC nations no longer emerging markets

Updated: 2011-04-13 07:56
By Zhang Chunyan ( China Daily)

LONDON - Ten years ago, Jim O'Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, coined the term "BRIC". Now he is questioning whether Brazil, Russia, India and China can still be defined as emerging markets.

"I don't think of the BRIC as emerging markets. It is an insult and inopportune. And in any case, they are different markets," O'Neill told China Daily in an exclusive interview.

He said: "The BRIC economies are increasingly the major story for the world economy, they have lifted the world economy's growth trend from 3.7 percent to 4.5 percent in my view."

O'Neill's remarks came ahead of the BRICS summit to be held on Thursday in Sanya in southern China's Hainan province, where leaders from the four original members and South Africa will discuss ways to boost trade and increase cooperation.

The BRICS economies are currently worth around $11-$12 trillion, while the figure for the United States is $15 trillion, O'Neill noted. By 2018, they will probably be bigger than the US.

"How can anyone call them emerging economies?" he asked.

Almost all investors and analysts regard the BRICS as emerging markets. They have been the biggest investment story of the past decade. In many cases they emerged from the financial crisis looking more stable than their developed peers.

But O'Neill and Goldman Sachs plan to redefine the world of emerging markets. They have added Mexico, South Korea, Turkey and Indonesia to a new grouping with the four original BRIC members and call all eight countries "growth markets".

O'Neill says BRIC nations no longer emerging markets

By 2020, the combined GDP of the four original BRIC members will be around $25 trillion, while that of the eight "growth markets" will be around $30 trillion.

In a speech in London, O'Neill said Poland, Saudi Arabia, Argentina and Iran should be called emerging markets.

However, O'Neill noted, he is not expanding the original four-member BRIC group to eight and has no plans to do so. The BRIC countries are the leading "growth economies", and the other four are and will remain smaller.

O'Neill coined the term BRIC in 2001. Since then, the term has spawned government summits, investment funds and business strategies.

"I didn't expect any of this, it is remarkable. More seriously, all these developments are a sign of the remarkable economic impact of the BRIC economies in the last decade," O'Neill said, preferring to use the old acronym BRIC even though South Africa has joined the group and it is now known as the BRICS.

At around $350 billion, South Africa's economy is small relative to those of the four original BRIC members. Even the economies of India and Russia, the smallest of the original BRIC grouping, are five times bigger than South Africa.

"I guess South African involvement may have something to do with Africa as a continent, but I doubt other big countries such as Nigeria see them as their representative," he added.