Global Hot SpotsLaxmi Nakarmi
Everyday business news tends to be made in a handful of countries. People everywhere sit up and take notice when Japan, the U.S., or Germany tinkers with interest rates or a high-profile finance minister kicks off a new economic program. Even the turf we call "emerging markets" often seems confined to a few countries that have caught the attention of investors in the past five years with a rush of privatizations or a fledgling stock index that suddenly soars.
But the world economy is vaster and more complex than that. Tectonic changes in political regimes, more open flows of trade and capital, and the spread of information technology have fostered thriving new businesses, often in remote corners of the globe. Author and former McKinsey & Co. international consultant Kenichi Ohmae writes that today's "natural business units" are increasingly cities or regions rather than nation-states. In the following pages, BUSINESS WEEK tours some of the world's hottest growth spots--many still considered exotic by money managers in London or New York.
The surprise in these stories is that while fundamental shifts in national policy often laid the groundwork for economic growth, success has come largely through local initiative. In many cases, breaking free from long traditions of protectionism and regulation has allowed regions to prosper even faster than the nations to which they belong. For example, in China, average gross domestic product per capita is still only around $300. But in the country's reform-minded provinces, rapidly becoming a factory to all of Asia, per capita GDP is close to $3,000.
Still, there's no underestimating the importance of national events, such as the collapse of communism in Russia or the end of apartheid in South Africa, that provided the raw material for zealous individuals to forge into greater wealth. Our sampling of global growth spots leads off with New Zealand, a country where a radical economic overhaul in the past five years has produced a model of unfettered growth. But grassroots entrepreneurs are busy creating prosperity from the Arctic Circle to Soweto.
AUCKLAND NEW ZEALAND By throwing open their markets, the Kiwis are riding the Asia boom to wealth Page 117
SUBIC BAY PHILIPPINES Since the U.S. Navy moved out, trade-hungry multinationals have been moving in Page 119
OULU FINLAND This remote Arctic outpost is home to some of the world's most advanced telecom companies Page 120
BOMBAY INDIA Competition is forcing the huge B-movie industry to learn about special effects, marketing, and profits Page 122
NEW YORK CITY USA A gritty Manhattan neighborhood has become the mecca of "new media" companies Page 125
SOWETO SOUTH AFRICA Shopping centers, bookstores, and cinemas are sprouting in the former black township Page 126