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Top growth geographies: Shifting CEO views of growth potential in foreign markets

CEOs rank growth potential in foreign markets

KPMG’s 2016 Global CEO Outlook presents the views of top executives on the rising and declining growth potential of the world’s major geographic markets.

Godfrey Boyce - KPMG NZ - Partner

Chief Executive

KPMG in New Zealand


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KPMG’s 2016 Global CEO Outlook reveals how CEOs’ view of growth potential in the world has shifted since the 2015 survey. India, China and the US are seen by these top executives as the most attractive foreign markets. India has taken the top spot, moving up from number five in 2015.  While still among the leading markets, the US and China decreased since last year. Western Europe has also seen a significant decline in its attractiveness as a foreign market.

CEOs' top five growth markets


regions with greatest potential for growth chart

Geographies with declining growth

CEOs surveyed by KPMG believe that the biggest pullbacks will be from the oil economies of the Middle East (22 percent) and Russia (21 percent) this year. Geopolitical risks in the Middle East region further add to the concerns. Japan — for which the next 3 years will be a test of whether Abenomics can put the country on a growth path — is also seeing some decrease in interest.

regions with potential for decreasing focus chart

CEOs’ top growth geographies

India: This year India tops the ranking of growth geographies according to the survey. Given India’s current economic reforms, its demographic dividend of young people, and its status as the fastest-growing large economy in GDP percentage, Indian CEOs are projecting higher revenue growth over the next 3 years than their global counterparts. This further substantiates the optimistic growth outlook for the economy.

China: With a challenging economic environment for CEOs in China, their companies are fast adapting to the new landscape. They are driving new products, incentivizing and upskilling their workers, fostering innovation and using new disruptive technologies to improve productivity and efficiency and achieve strong organic growth. 

This optimism over the future of China’s economic growth is reflected in the KPMG survey results. The findings show that CEOs in China possess greater confidence than their global peers in the growth prospects of their home country, company, industry and the global economy over the next 12 months. 

US: The US is third to India and China as the region with the greatest potential for new growth.  This stronger growth is illustrated by a greater rate of consumption and higher interest rates than other developed, and even some emerging, markets.

Part of the source for US growth is what economists call ‘business dynamism’. Or, to use Silicon Valley parlance, failing fast. It is no surprise then that 76 percent of US CEOs (compared with 65 percent of non-US CEOs) are concerned that new entrants and competition are disrupting their business models. The US has among the highest penetration of smartphones and social media in the world and this means informed and often demanding customers armed with the megaphone of social media. US CEOs are rightfully concerned about customer satisfaction with 54 percent reporting concern that their companies are not keeping pace with their customers’ needs and expectations. All this competition and customer focus makes US firms sharper and in many cases more nimble than their global counterparts.

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