There are clear trends for the 85 world in the latest WEF Global Enabling Trade Report.

Stalls and shops in the market in the Muslim Quarter, Xi’an, China. Will Clayton/Flickr CC BY 2.0

By Afshin Molavi | December 20, 2016

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual ‘Global Enabling Trade Report’ identifies the world’s best national environments for enabling trade.

Here are the top 5 emerge85 trading nations based on the report’s findings.

Top 5 Emerging Market Trading Nations

Top 5 Emerging Market Trading Nations
Source: World Economic Forum, 2016

‘The riches of the world’

The British explorer, writer, spy, and courtier Sir Walter Raleigh (1591-1618) memorably noted that “whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself”.

But Sir Walter was writing in the early years of exploitative colonisation by European powers from Africa, to Latin America, to Asia. Today, the world looks very different. However, one thing remains true: Trade is a powerful driver of national prosperity.

Every year, the WEF report evaluates 136 economies “based on their capacity to facilitate the flow of goods over borders and to their destination”.

It is a revealing look at the world’s top trading nations. In the chart below, the emerge85 lab has created a top 5 and expanded top 10 list based on the regions we cover: Latin America, Africa, and Asia – home to 85% of the world’s population. We borrow from the WEF rankings.

Only 10 countries from the emerge85 world made it to the top 40, though the powerful trading hubs of Singapore and Hong Kong came in first and third, respectively.

Trade-Enabling Nations, Emerging Market Ranking vs Global Ranking

Trade-enabling Nations, Emerging Market Ranking vs Global Ranking
Source: World Economic Forum, 2016

Digging deeper

China leads the populous emerging markets, while the UAE ranks first in West Asia and North Africa (WANA); and Chile far outshines the rest of Latin America, with Mauritius standing out in sub-Saharan Africa.


  • Although China, the world’s largest trading nation, ranked 61st in the index, it fared considerably better than other populous emerging markets. As WEF notes, six nations with a combined population of 2.4bn ranked outside the top 100: India (102), Brazil (110), Russia (111), Pakistan (122), Bangladesh (123), and Nigeria (127).
  • The UAE, notably, came in just behind the US and ahead of powerful trading nations such as Canada, Australia, and South Korea. Along with Israel (30), these were the only countries in West Asia to make the top 30.
  • WANA nations that ranked in the top 50 include Bahrain (42), Qatar (43), Jordan (45), Oman (46), and Morocco (49).
  • Latin America fared poorly, with only Chile making the top 50. Mexico fell just shy of the mark, at 51, followed by Peru (54), Costa Rica (57), and Panama (58).
  • Sub-Saharan Africa also performed poorly, Mauritius being a notable exception coming in at 39 globally and making the top 10 in the emerge85 list. Several sub-Saharan African countries found themselves in the 75-100 range, including Namibia (75), Kenya (77), Lesotho (80), Uganda (84), Senegal (96), Zambia (97), the Gambia (99), and Ghana (100).
  • Despite Asia accounting for more than one-third of global trade, only four countries made the top 25: Singapore (1), Hong Kong SAR (3), Japan (16), and the UAE (23).

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