One of the most efficient ways to access emerging market countries is through exchange traded funds (ETFs).
The ETF that reigns supreme in assets is iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) which has garnered $20 billion in assets, and has heavy trading volume. The expense ratio is 0.74%, which can be hefty when compared with that of its competitor, Vanguard Emerging Markets (VWO).
VWO has around $2.13 billion and lower expense ratio of 0.25%. A buy-and-hold investor should take the 0.49% difference into consideration. While those numbers might seem small, over the long-term, fees can cut into returns significantly.
EEM gives the most exposure to Brazil at 16%, then China 14.8%, South Korea 12.2%, and Taiwan 9.3%, while South Africa takes 8.1%. The top three holdings are Gazprom OAO 3.7%, Samsung Electric 3.2%, and Posco ADR 2.8%.