Despite fears of terrorism and sluggish economic growth in the developed world, some markets are actually becoming more stable, said Aon.

According to Aon's 2003 political risk map, 14 states around the world are ranked as more stable in 2003 than in previous years.

These include four of the ten EU applicant states, five African states and five key emerging markets, including Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Yugoslavia and Croatia.

In contrast, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Uruguay have been downgraded.

Aon Political Risks director Martin Stone said that concerns over `wild-card' terrorism have little effect on rating.

"We look at underlying trends and general conditions. It is difficult to rate wild-card activity.

"But pre-existing terrorist activity, such as that in Algeria, does affect the availability of cover."