As President-elect Donald Trump pursues an isolationist policy that abrogates international treaties and implements trade barriers, the role of global economic leadership will largely pass to the Pacific Rim.
He has vowed to get tough with China and other foreign nations. But ironically, Trump's implacable stance may empower Beijing and its allies, at America's expense.
During a summit meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders this week in Peru, the Asian leaders in attendance expressed enormous concern about the incoming Trump administration's stated intention to abandon trade agreements, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
America's retreat from the TPP and other international pacts designed to make trade more efficient would actually embolden China and other Asian countries, as they set up their own trade agreements and lending institutions to fill the vacuum left by the U.S.
The upshot: The time is ripe to invest in select Pacific Rim stocks.
The most promising and under-reported Asian investment story right now is South Korea. This overlooked country affords long-term, stable investment growth in an increasingly uncertain and volatile world.
The best direct play on South Korean prosperity is the iShares MSCI South Korea Capped Exchange-Traded Fund (EWY) .
A lengthening list of anxieties bedevils investors, including the European migrant crisis and terrorism. But through it all, one multi-year trend remains inexorable: the growth of newly affluent middle classes in emerging markets, especially Asia.
The growing army of gadget-addicted consumers in developing regions bodes well for South Korea, a country often ignored by the media and investors.
South Korea can proudly lay claim to being one of the world's most compelling success stories, rising from war-torn austerity and harsh dictatorship to democracy and thriving free enterprise in a mere half century.
With an export-dependent economy heavily weighted toward advanced technology, South Korea is poised for enormous long-term growth, yet it usually stays hidden under Wall Street's radar. And that spells opportunity for investors.
The iShares MSCI South Korea Capped ETF allows investors to ride South Korea's upward trajectory, with fewer risks than individual equities.
With assets of $3.37 billion, the ETF seeks to track the investment results of the MSCI Korea 25/50 Index. The ETF's top holdings include Hyundai Motor, KB Financial and Samsung Electronics.
The ETF has racked up a year-to-date return of 11.44%. Since its inception in mid-2000, the ETF has gained 170.96%.
The expense ratio is 0.64%, which is reasonable for its class.
Although the ETF's major holding, Samsung Electronics, has struggled lately because of exploding batteries in the company's smartphones, the company is getting back on track. Notably, Samsung Electronics said on Nov. 14 that it intends to purchase U.S.-based Harman International Industries, which supplies visual screen and navigation systems to automakers.
Samsung Electronics' goal with the Harman International Industries purchase is to aggressively pursue the "smart-car" business, one of the hottest technology trends. The $8 billion deal is the largest foreign acquisition by a South Korean company to date.
As Trump continues to show little interest in Asia, except to excoriate China on trade, economic power will shift to Asian capitals such as Seoul, South Korea. Get ahead of the curve, with a stake in the iShares MSCI South Korea Capped ETF.
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