Hot Turkey

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With everything else going on over recent weeks, one story went by almost unnoticed. There was a British trade mission, not to the United States or China, but rather to Turkey.

For some private investors, the attractions of this gateway economy virtually on our doorsteps are clear. But in surveying the state of the global economy, in my view, rarely has there been a more compelling case for Turkey in balanced portfolios. And rarely has accessing this country been easier.

Last month's trade mission was one promoting medium-sized British companies. And while government struggles to persuade the titans of the emerging world - China and India in particular - to boost domestic consumption and increase imports from the UK, trade with Turkey since the credit crunch has increased by more than a third.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills was clear what this says about Britain's approach to economic policy - credit and consumer spending to be replaced by a focus on global trade. And such efforts need to be redoubled since the UK slipped back into technical recession. The worst of it being before the economy double dipped, output had failed to return to levels enjoyed at the peak of the last boom - in some definitions a "depression".

But back to Turkey. There are some negatives for investors, not least of which (like India) is a persistent rate of high-ish inflation and an unemployment problem. And the market can be volatile, as it is currently sitting around 1,000 points from its recent peak. But Turkey is growing at a staggering rate: 9.2% in 2009 and 8.5% last year. That puts it in the first division of global growth.

The real attraction of Turkey though is much more than this. With a foot in Europe and another in Asia, Turkey is a stable gateway to the East. It allows investors to gain exposure to the riskier "stans". Indeed a view of the 10-year chart of the Turkish market shows the sort of growth trend that investors like to see.

Unlike medium-sized business, investors can access Turkey with consummate ease. Identifying individual quoted companies as investment winners can be difficult in markets such as this and runs the risk of missing the bigger story. Perhaps the simplest method of gaining exposure is by using index tracking exchange traded funds which allows one to simply buy the index - the theme if you like - rather than trying to stock pick. These instruments are cost-effective, transparent and are traded on the London market like a share.

Stephen Barber is economics and market adviser at Selftrade.

Can emerging markets continue to grow? Is BRIC still the story and will Africa catch up? And which parts of the eurozone should be worrying us most? Brian Coulton considers all these questions in: What's in store for emerging markets?