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Why emerging markets are slowing down

Emerging mar­kets are cur­rently expe­ri­encing an eco­nomic slow­down, according to scholars and busi­ness leaders who spoke at the fifth annual Emerging Mar­kets Sym­po­sium on Tuesday at North­eastern.

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By: news@Northeastern

October 3, 2013

Syed Jafry, president of emerging markets for Thermo Fisher Scientific, delivered the keynote address at the fifth annual Emerging Markets Symposium. Photo by Mariah Tauger.

Emerging mar­kets are cur­rently expe­ri­encing an eco­nomic slow­down, according to scholars and busi­ness leaders who spoke at the fifth annual Emerging Mar­kets Sym­po­sium on Tuesday at North­eastern. They pointed to infla­tion, a sharp drop in cur­rency, and a down­turn in for­eign invest­ments as the promi­nent rea­sons for the finan­cial slump.

“These are not the go-​​go years of the 2000s,” explained Ravi Rama­murti, Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Inter­na­tional Busi­ness and Strategy in the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness and the director of Northeastern’s Center for Emerging Mar­kets. “Coun­tries have begun to ask what this means for the future of their places in the global economy.”

Rama­murti orga­nized the sym­po­sium, which was cospon­sored by AIM Inter­na­tional Busi­ness Council and World­Boston. The pro­gram fea­tured more than half a dozen speakers from acad­emia and industry, all of whom dis­cussed the new reality of emerging mar­kets in Brazil, Russia, India, China, and beyond. Pre­sen­ters included Diony­s­ious Bouzos, vice pres­i­dent of emerging mar­kets for Merck & Co; Sara Johnson, senior research director of global eco­nomics for IHS Global Insight; Anand Raman, editor-​​at-​​large of the Har­vard Busi­ness Review; Venkat Srini­vasan, founder and CEO of Rage Frame­works and Eng­lish­Helper; and keynote speaker Syed Jafry, pres­i­dent of emerging mar­kets for Thermo Fisher Sci­en­tific, the world’s largest man­u­fac­turer of life sci­ence equipment.

North­eastern stu­dents and alumni also fig­ured promi­nently in the day­long event, during which they dis­cussed their recent co-​​op expe­ri­ences in Asia. Ran Ding, a 2013 grad­uate of the inter­na­tional busi­ness pro­gram, worked for Li & Fung, a global sourcing firm based in Hong Kong, while Britton Green, a senior inter­na­tional affairs major, worked for CNBC’s office in Singapore.

In his opening remarks, Hugh Courtney, dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness, noted Northeastern’s national lead­er­ship in the field of inter­na­tional busi­ness. The university’s inter­na­tional busi­ness pro­gram is ranked No. 8 in the nation, according to the 2014 rank­ings by U.S. News & World Report. “We really are the leaders in this field, and we love to bring other leaders to campus,” Courtney said. “Engaging with the com­mu­nity is where break­throughs occur.”

According to Jafry, col­lab­o­ra­tion has been a key fea­ture of Thermo Fisher Scientific’s evolving strategy in emerging markets.

“Ini­tially we want to leverage our part­ners and dis­trib­u­tors,” he explained in his keynote address, “but as we grow we want to con­trol our own des­tiny by investing in building direct orga­ni­za­tions in these areas.”

Jafry cited the firm’s work in China as an example of its pro­gres­sive busi­ness strategy. Since entering the Chi­nese market some 30 years ago, he said, Thermo Fisher Sci­en­tific has estab­lished a strong research and devel­op­ment, man­u­fac­turing, and com­mer­cial infra­struc­ture, including the devel­op­ment of five factories.

Its newest facility in Suzhou was designed to estab­lish local pro­duc­tion capa­bil­i­ties to meet increased cus­tomer demand in the world’s most pop­u­lous country. “Our strategy is to look at China as a mar­ket­place where we want to sell prod­ucts rather than as a source of man­u­fac­turing,” Jafry explained. “China is the brightest spot in terms of rev­enue growth for our com­pany,” he added.