Most economists agree the 21st century economy will not belong to the West. As both Europe and North America struggle with low growth, a refugee crisis, the of populist politics, and higher unemployment rates, the stage is set for the “rest” to make an economic breakthrough on the global stage. In this article, we will take a look at a few of the most significant economies to watch in the 21st century.



The rapid rise of China from an underdeveloped nation into a global superpower is simply astonishing. While there are many economists now putting down the strength China as it slowly moves into a consumer-based economy, the importance of the Chinese market can no longer be disputed. For example, wellness products manufacturer did a record $1.35 billion in sales last year, mainly due to its growth in the Chinese market. The stock market fall in August of 2015, which was triggered by the fall in the Shanghai Composite Index, is just one example of how the center of gravity in the global market is slowly shifting away from London and New York to Shanghai and Beijing. Economists who believe China is about to enter a long low growth period, just like Japan did in the 1990s, are getting their facts mixed up. China’s GDP per capita is only 25 percent of what Japan’s was in the 1990s, which means the Chinese economy still has a lot of room left to grow. A better comparison to China’s position in the world today is more like the Japanese economy in the 1950s. It will take a long time before China reaches a GDP comparable to the Western world, and this “latecomer” status is a good thing for the Middle Kingdom. While it may take time, China is still poised to overtake the U.S. economy as the global superpower as the 21st century wanes on.


United Arab Emirates

One of the hottest places to be in the Middle East today is in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The economic growth in this region was made possible thanks to the discovery of oil, the industriousness of the local Arab population, as well as great policies from governmental officials. Just one example of the great policies put into place in the UAE is the success of the Emirate Ras Al Khaimah. Most economists believe this Emirate is the most favorable for international business. Under the progressive leadership of Shaikh Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi, Ras Al Khaimah has made itself into a wonderful area to live, work, and do business in. With its modern highways, powerful shipping ports, international airports, and relatively low cost of living, this Emirate has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. The government here has kept the GDP stable, maintained a well-understood and respected legal framework, and supported the development of industries like steel and glass production, travel and leisure, and pharmaceuticals. Although all of the UAE is set to explode upwards in the 21st century, keep your eye on this Emirate. It might not get as much headline attention as the flashy Emirate of Dubai, but Ras Al Khaimah is drawing in major dollars from powerful international investors.


The Rise of Africa

Many investors are curious if the 21st century could see the rise of Africa as the “new China.” There are certainly plenty of raw materials manufacturers could extract from this region, and multinational corporations are just itching to dip into Africa’s growing consumer base. There is actually a great growth in the economic performance of sub-Saharan countries in recent years. HIS Global Insight believes that sub-Saharan African nations’ economies are set to perform better than all other economic blocs, excepting China, in real GDP growth in the upcoming years. Many global economists believe sub-Saharan Africa’s real GDP could grow by as much as six percent each year from now till 2022. Also, Africa has a growing population, whereas many countries in the developed world have shrinking or negative birth rates. While this data looks promising, just keep in mind that many African nations need to work on creating political stability, reducing poverty, and building up infrastructure. Although some of these problems have gone down a bit in recent times, we will just have to wait and see if Africa can emerge as a global power in the years to come.


Nobody can predict the future, but current trends indicate these three regions of the world could experience tremendous growth in the 21st century. There are many “ifs” for the future prospects of developing nations, but all of them have a great chance to unseat the West as the center of global business in coming years. Be sure to keep your eyes on these areas of the world for potentially lucrative investment opportunities in the economy of tomorrow.