MINT and the shipping sector

MINT is a neologism referring to the economies of Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey. The term was originally coined by Fidelity, a Boston-based asset management firm and was popularized by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs, who had created the term BRIC. The term is primarily used in the economic and financial spheres as well as in academia. Its usage has grown especially in the investment sector, where it is used to refer to the bonds issued by these governments. These 4 countries are also on the Next Eleven countries list.

Before MINT, O’Neill had in 2001 predicted the rise of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). After a while, he added South Africa thereby changing the configuration to BRICS. At a time, Nigeria was rumoured to have been added to the formula and BRINCS was being touted until it became clear that we were not serious enough to pull through.

True to O’Neill’s prediction, the five BRICS countries witnessed huge economic growths, especially China and Brazil.

The economist has now predicted that global economic growths would be more visible in the MINT countries in the next decade.

In a column for Bloomberg View recently, O’Neill said: “I spent last week in Indonesia, working on a series for BBC Radio about four of the world’s most populous non-BRIC emerging economies. The BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China — are already closely watched. The group I’m studying for this project – let’s call them the MINT economies – deserve no less attention. Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey all have very favorable demographics for at least the next 20 years, and their economic prospects are interesting.

“Policy makers and thinkers in the MINT countries have often asked me why I left them out of that first classification. Indonesians made the point with particular force. Over the years I’ve become accustomed to being told that the BRIC countries should have been the BRIICs all along, or maybe even the BIICs.”

Curiously, some politicians and government apologists have started celebrating already as if the prediction is an end in itself.

Nigeria is a peculiar country and I am sure O’Neill did not factor in our peculiarity – the well known Nigerian factor – in his assumptions.

I am a die-hard optimist as far as Nigeria is concerned and in the face of all odds but while I remain positive about the future of this country, I must admit that I do not share all the excitements in O’Neill’s prediction.

The MINT theory rests its assumptions on three main platforms namely demography, geography and commodity.

Yes we have the population; 170 million and still counting. Nigeria is a huge market no doubt and we are responsible for over 60 per cent of West Africa’s trade. Nigeria is the largest single market in Africa. Our low per capita income is duly compensated for by our sheer number. So yes, I agree with the economist; we have the number.

I however do not believe that Nigeria’s geographical location is any advantage. We are not geographically better located than any other country of the world. It is a global village already and where you reside no longer matters. It is what you do with what you have. Besides, how much of trading do we do with fellow African countries? Our trade volume with China is ten times more than our trade volume with other African nations. And do you know that it is easier to fly from Nigeria to Europe and America than it is to some African countries? It is also easier to initiate and conclude a business transaction with Europe and America than with fellow African nations. Try sending money to Angola or Ivory Coast!

So I really don’t see any geographical advantage that we have as a nation that others lack. In our sub-region in West Africa, language remains a major barrier to trading. And most of the goods imported into Nigeria supposedly from other West African countries under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) are as a matter of fact manufactured in Asia. ETLS is then used as a front for smuggling those goods into Nigeria.

And then commodity; yes we have oil and gas in enviable quantity. We have solid minerals in abundance too. My worry is that greed and avarice has made nonsense the availability of these natural resources such that Nigerians have come to regard oil as a curse to this nation. Besides, we don’t add value to these commodities. We export crude oil only to import refined petroleum products. The crude export is done as free-on-board (FOB) while the petroleum product import is cost, insurance and freight (CIF).

Effectively therefore, we are not participating in the shipments of these commodities thereby throwing away at least 30 per cent of their value.

And we have been on the issue of constant power supply forever. I don’t see Nigeria becoming an economic giant without constant power supply and improved public infrastructure.

So we will not MINT anything until we begin to take conscious steps to change our ways. Just the way ‘N’ disappeared from BRINCS, I hope MINT does not become MIT. 

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