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Investing in foreign markets

June 2013 | Servcorp

Those who like to keep their eyes on multi-national business will be aware of Singapore's International Enterprise (IE) chief executive officer Teo Eng Cheong's recent statement that Vietnam is a country with promising long-term potential.

Cheong expressed that the country's rapid urbanisation, large domestic economy and abundance of natural resources will provide plenty of opportunities for businesses in both Vietnam and Singapore.

Cheong obviously knows what he's talking about in this regard, and just his insistence will be enough to send many decision makers in the direction of Vietnam. However, if you're weighing up the benefits of investing in any foreign country or business, you'll need to know what makes a good long term bet.

Whether you're considering Vietnam or any other country as a potential investment, the first things that need to be considered are the risk factors attached to the nation in question. This needs to be done from both an economic and political standpoint.

Economically, you have to decide whether a country's finances  are stable enough to support your investment. For instance, does the country as a whole have any outstanding debts, and can it afford to pay them back if so? To judge this, it's worth reviewing the country's credit rating. It's also worth investigating a country's gross domestic product, inflation rates and consumer price index.

From a political standpoint, you need to ensure that decisions made by ruling governments within the country you're investing in aren't likely to impact on your business. Similarly, you have to ensure that the political system within the country is stable enough that you can count on there being little disruption to long-term plans.

Keeping up with reputable international newspapers can be a good way of overseeing the political climate in foreign countries. For more in-depth information, the likes of the Economist Intelligence Unit can be an invaluable resource as well.

This information might be considered basic for those that have years of multi-national investment behind them, but for those that haven't they're great starting points.

Sometimes in the world of business you have to make your own mistakes to learn from them, but by only investing sensibly in foreign markets that can support your business properly, you'll be on the right path