India is the emerging market with the greatest potential, ahead of a slowing China, according to an annual survey of global logistics industry executives.
In the survey, part of the 10th annual Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index, India, China, Vietnam, Brazil and Indonesia are the countries seen as having greatest potential.
In the Index itself, China remains atop the annual 50-country rankings and India is No. 2, followed by United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Qatar, Turkey and Vietnam.
The Index is a broad gauge of competitiveness, ranking 50 countries by factors that make them attractive to logistics providers, freight forwarders, shipping lines, air cargo carriers and distributors.
China, India and Indonesia rank highest for domestic logistics; China, India and Mexico are tops for international logistics; and UAE, Malaysia and Qatar have the best business fundamentals.
In business fundamentals, India (10) and China (7) trail smaller economies, but India has made leaps in recent years with the adoption of the Goods and Services Tax and other economic reforms.
Says Andy Vargoczky, SVP Sales & Marketing Asia-Pacific for Agility Global Integrated Logistics: "The logistics industry's optimism is based on what India has accomplished -- the Goods and Services Tax and other reforms -- and on what can still be done to create economic growth and prosperity.
"China still generates excitement, but its economy is slowing, and there is uncertainty about the future of its trade relationship with the US."
The strongest clusters of emerging markets are in the Arabian Gulf and Southeast Asia, thanks to business-friendly conditions and core strengths -- the Gulf's energy wealth and Southeast Asian manufacturing power -- that draw logistics activity.
In the Gulf, UAE (No. 3), Saudi Arabia (6), Qatar (8), Oman (12), Bahrain (16) and Kuwait (18) rank highly. Among ASEAN countries, Indonesia (4), Malaysia (5), Vietnam (10), Thailand (11) and Philippines (20) are strong.
Logistics industry executives see U.S.-China trade volume shrinking by 10% as a result of tensions, which have led to them imposing tariffs on each other. Against a backdrop of trade friction and data showing China's economy slowing, survey respondents see India as the market with greatest potential over China, their second choice.
56% of those surveyed say a prolonged trade standoff between the U.S. and China could benefit Southeast Asian countries, which offer manufacturing and sourcing alternatives to China.
China's $4-$8 trillion Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure drive is a bigger plus for China than for the countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe where it is investing. 64% of executives surveyed see the BRI boosting growth and trade for China; only 41.4% believe it will help other emerging markets.
E-commerce is fueling logistics opportunities in emerging markets. 66% of industry executives expect more outsourcing of last-mile delivery by retailers; 47.4% expecting more e-fulfilment outsourcing.
Brexit could benefit emerging markets. 59% of executives surveyed expect emerging markets to seek trade concessions and new deals from the UK. Seventy-percent think emerging markets will be unaffected by Brexit.
The so-called BRICS economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) were once considered bellwethers and prime engines of emerging markets growth, but have diverged. China (1) and India (2) continue growing at more than 6% a year.
Russia (14) is slowed by economic sanctions and low energy prices; Brazil (15) has lost market investment amid its worst downturn; and South Africa (24) has seen prospects suffer amid years of ruling party infighting and labor unrest.