On Friday, I gave an overview of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deals and how the proposed changes will affect the United States.
Today, I’m back to finish this thread by identifying two Pacific Rim countries that are poised to be the biggest winners.
In trade pacts, it’s not difficult to figure out who the big winners will be.
They’re usually the least-developed countries in the grouping because they have less to lose and the most to gain. For certain sectors, however, more-developed countries can hold a winning hand.
Ahead of the Pack
New Zealand, for example, is poised to come out ahead.
New Zealand represents 35% of world dairy exports, so it’s basically the “Saudi Arabia of dairy.” Fully 37% of its land mass is devoted to agriculture with 48% contributing to total exports. Ninety percent of farm production is exported.
Clearly I’m not the only one who thinks New Zealand is an exceptional place from a risk-reward perspective. Many of the wealthiest people in the world, who have the resources to go anywhere and buy anything, have been quietly establishing escape hatches there.
Two of the TPP’s others winners hail from Southeast Asia – Malaysia and Vietnam, which still lack bilateral trade agreements with four countries in the pact, including the United States.
Both count on TPP members for roughly one-third of their trade, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates that the TPP would push Malaysia’s exports up roughly 10% and Vietnam’s up 30%.
And the Winner Is…
While Japan and America will get a modest boost of economic growth as this agreement takes effect, the big winner will be Vietnam. According to UBS report, the TPP could potentially boost Vietnam’s economy by 14% over the next five years.
This country of 93 million is bursting with youthful energy, with 50% of its tech-savvy citizens under the age of 30. Its manufacturing wages are 60% of China’s, which is why Samsung makes half of its cell phones here.
About 20% of Vietnam’s GDP is attributed to foreign investment, and that will likely surge even higher. So far in 2015, foreign direct investment is up a stunning 53%, most of it headed to the manufacturing sector.
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A consumer boom is already underway. To put the potential in perspective, right now only 1.7% of Vietnamese own a car; in Thailand, that figure is 40%.
Vietnam also has the lowest GDP per capita among TPP member states: $1,900. Peru is the next lowest at $6,800.
Vietnam will become a manufacturing destination for industries that require low-wage labor to remain competitive. Sectors that need cheap wages, such as apparel, footwear, and textiles, should greatly benefit. Eurasia Group estimates that footwear and apparel exports will see a 50% boost over the next 10 years due to the trade pact.
“Vietnam has already made huge gains in garment and footwear production, and these deals will help boost its comparative advantage as factories look to relocate from China, promoting more job creation and technology transfer,” said Johanna Chua, an economist at Citigroup.
This explains why Vietnam’s exports have tripled in U.S. dollar terms since 2007 and its exports to North American markets are up an amazing 30-fold since 2000.
The TPP should lessen the country’s reliance on the Chinese market and widen its appeal to markets such as Canada and Mexico.
Meanwhile, the country’s macro situation has markedly improved.
A few years ago, inflation was running at 20%, but it’s now down to 2%. Interest rates have fallen from 15% to 6%, property markets have stabilized, and credit growth is up.
Despite this progress, Vietnam’s stock market is still well off its high and trading at just eight times earnings.
In addition, the current market value of all publicly traded companies in Vietnam is 30% of its GDP, while Thailand and the Philippines are trading at 95% and 115%, respectively.
These gaps won’t last forever, so I encourage you to take action by blending the Market Vectors Vietnam ETF (VNM) into your global portfolio. The ETF is a bit top heavy with its top 10 holdings representing 60% of total holdings.
Don’t wait too long. This ETF has surged in the wake of the TPP negotiations, but has plenty of room to grow.