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Recession-proof: the big boom countries

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Recession is forcing British businesses to seek opportunities overseas. But which markets are ripe for the plucking? Which countries are bustling with talent and innovation?

First up, Turkey.

Turkey is expected to be one of the world’s top ten economies by 2050. It is already an incredible place to do business. With a population of 72 million, some 50 per cent of the workforce is under 28, which gives the region, especially the capital Istanbul, an incredible energy. And, for foreign firms looking to set up camp in the city, there is a significant pool of cheap graduates to cherry-pick from.

Geographically, it is strategically placed as a unique link between Europe, Asia and the Middle East. This gives businesses there access to two economies: the sophisticated (though now, fatally flawed) western economies of the EU countries, and the growing, lesser developed opportunities in the Middle East and former Soviet Union.

While 99.8 percent of Turkey’s population is Muslim, Turkey is a liberal democracy, welcoming other relgions and creeds. And unlike us, over the past decade Turkey has dramatically curtailed government debt, reduced inflation, and seen an almost miraculous recovery since the financial crisis in 2001.

Flourishing sectors include: environmental services; financial services; agriculture; and ICT.

Next, Brussels.

Belgium has often been voted the most boring country in world, but when it comes to financial stability, that’s a good thing.

The 2007 European Competitiveness Index named Brussels "the most competitive region in Europe".  With an 80 per cent tax reduction for foreign businesses (on research reveues and IP development), there’s little wonder small firms are flocking there.

Again, geographically, Belgium is in the sweet spot. Situated slap bang at the heart of Europe, the region is popular with any business that wants to establish itself on the continent. There is also access to a mulitligual, highly educated staff pool and, compared to other European capitals, Brussels is renowned for its affordable housing.

Finally, Panama.

Although Panama is  the fourth largest economy in Central America, behind Guatemala, Costa Rica, and El Salvador, it is the fastest growing with the largest per capita consumers in Central America.

Since regaining control of the Panama Canal from the US in 1999, GDP has sky-rocketed (2006 figures showed a 11.2 per cent increase).

Panama also has the second largest free-trade zone in the world, accounting for 92 per cent of the country’s exports and 64 per cent of its imports last year.

Around 80 per cent of Panama’s GDP comes from the service sector, but the strong banking sector has also weathered incredibly well so far this downturn.

There are also huge opportunites in construction for the wiley British firm as the tourism sector continues to flourish.

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