December 30, 2019
  (as revised January 31, 2020)
    
2019 Prospectus
iShares, Inc.
•  iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF | EEM |  NYSE ARCA
  
Beginning on January 1, 2021, as permitted by regulations adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), paper copies of the Fund’s shareholder reports will no longer be sent by mail, unless you specifically request paper copies of the reports from your financial intermediary, such as a broker-dealer or bank. Instead, the reports will be made available on a website, and you will be notified by mail each time a report is posted and provided with a website link to access the report.
If you already elected to receive shareholder reports electronically, you will not be affected by this change and you need not take any action. If you hold accounts through a financial intermediary, you may contact your financial intermediary to enroll in electronic delivery. Please note that not all financial intermediaries may offer this service.
You may elect to receive all future reports in paper free of charge. If you hold accounts through a financial intermediary, you can follow the instructions included with this disclosure, if applicable, or contact your financial intermediary to request that you continue to receive paper copies of your shareholder reports. Please note that not all financial intermediaries may offer this service. Your election to receive reports in paper will apply to all funds held with your financial intermediary.
The SEC has not approved or disapproved these securities or passed upon the adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.




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“MSCI Emerging Markets Index” is a servicemark of MSCI Inc. and has been licensed for use for certain purposes by BlackRock Fund Advisors or its affiliates. iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates. The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold, or promoted by MSCI Inc., nor does MSCI Inc. make any representation regarding the advisability of investing in the Fund.
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iSHARES® MSCI EMERGING MARKETS ETF
Ticker: EEM Stock Exchange: NYSE Arca
Investment Objective
The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of large- and mid-capitalization emerging market equities.
Fees and Expenses
The following table describes the fees and expenses that you will incur if you own shares of the Fund. The investment advisory agreement between iShares, Inc. (the “Company”) and BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”) (the “Investment Advisory Agreement”) provides that BFA will pay all operating expenses of the Fund, except the management fees, interest expenses, taxes, expenses incurred with respect to the acquisition and disposition of portfolio securities and the execution of portfolio transactions, including brokerage commissions, distribution fees or expenses, litigation expenses and any extraordinary expenses. The Fund may incur “Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses.” Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses reflect the Fund's pro rata share of the fees and expenses incurred by investing in other investment companies. The impact of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses is included in the total returns of the Fund. Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses are not included in the calculation of the ratio of expenses to average net assets shown in the Financial Highlights section of the Fund's prospectus (the “Prospectus”).
You may also incur usual and customary brokerage commissions and other charges when buying or selling shares of the Fund, which are not reflected in the Example that follows:
Annual Fund Operating Expenses
(ongoing expenses that you pay each year as a
percentage of the value of your investments)
Management
Fees
  Distribution and
Service (12b-1)
Fees
  Other
Expenses1
  Acquired Fund Fees
and Expenses 1
  Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
0.68%   None   0.00%   0.00%   0.68%

1 The amount rounded to 0.00%.
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Example. This Example is intended to help you compare the cost of owning shares of the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. The Example assumes that you invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then sell all of your shares at the end of those periods. The Example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions, your costs would be:
1 Year   3 Years   5 Years   10 Years
$69   $218   $379   $847
Portfolio Turnover. The Fund may pay transaction costs, such as commissions, when it buys and sells securities (or “turns over” its portfolio). A higher portfolio turnover rate may indicate higher transaction costs and may result in higher taxes when Fund shares are held in a taxable account. These costs, which are not reflected in the Annual Fund Operating Expenses or in the Example, affect the Fund’s performance. During the most recent fiscal year, the Fund's portfolio turnover rate was 15% of the average value of its portfolio.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (the “Underlying Index”), which is designed to measure equity market performance in the global emerging markets. As of August 31, 2019, the Underlying Index consisted of securities from the following 26 emerging market countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. The Underlying Index will
include large- and mid-capitalization companies and may change over time. As of August 31, 2019, a significant portion of the Underlying Index is represented by securities of companies in the financials industry or sector. The components of the Underlying Index are likely to change over time.
BFA uses a “passive” or indexing approach to try to achieve the Fund’s investment objective. Unlike many investment companies, the Fund does not try to “beat” the index it tracks and does not seek temporary defensive positions when markets decline or appear overvalued.
Indexing may eliminate the chance that the Fund will substantially outperform the Underlying Index but also may reduce some of the risks of active management, such as poor security selection. Indexing seeks to achieve lower costs and better after-tax performance by aiming to keep portfolio turnover low in comparison to actively managed investment companies.
BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy to manage the Fund. “Representative sampling” is an indexing strategy that involves investing in a representative sample of securities that collectively has an investment profile similar to that of an applicable underlying index. The securities
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selected are expected to have, in the aggregate, investment characteristics (based on factors such as market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of an applicable underlying index. The Fund may or may not hold all of the securities in the Underlying Index.
The Fund generally invests at least 90% of its assets in the securities of its Underlying Index and in depositary receipts representing securities in its Underlying Index. The Fund may invest the remainder of its assets in other securities, including securities not in the Underlying Index, but which BFA believes will help the Fund track the Underlying Index, and in other investments, including futures contracts, options on futures contracts, other types of options and swaps related to its Underlying Index, as well as cash and cash equivalents, including shares of money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates. BFA will waive portfolio management fees in an amount equal to the portfolio management fees of such other iShares funds for any portion of the Fund's assets invested in shares of such other funds.
The Fund invests all of its assets that are invested in India through a wholly-owned subsidiary located in the Republic of Mauritius (the “Subsidiary”). BFA serves as investment adviser to both the Fund and the Subsidiary. Unless otherwise indicated, the term “Fund,” as used in this Prospectus, means the Fund and/or the Subsidiary, as applicable. The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the Underlying Index before fees and expenses of the Fund.
The Fund may lend securities representing up to one-third of the value of the Fund's total assets (including the value of any collateral received).
The Underlying Index is sponsored by MSCI Inc. (the “Index Provider” or “MSCI”), which is independent of the Fund and BFA. The Index Provider determines the composition and relative weightings of the securities in the Underlying Index and publishes information regarding the market value of the Underlying Index.
Industry Concentration Policy. The Fund will concentrate its investments (i.e., hold 25% or more of its total assets) in a particular industry or group of industries to approximately the same extent that the Underlying Index is concentrated. For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and instrumentalities) and repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
Summary of Principal Risks
As with any investment, you could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund's performance could trail that of other investments. The Fund is subject to certain risks, including the principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund's net asset value per share (“NAV”), trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Asset Class Risk. Securities and other assets in the Underlying Index or in the
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Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to the general financial markets, a particular financial market or other asset classes.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Creation and Redemptions section of the Prospectus) may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund, and none of those Authorized Participants is obligated to engage in creation and/or redemption transactions. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units (as defined in the Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares section of the Prospectus), Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration risk may be heightened for exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”), such as the Fund, that invest in securities issued by non-U.S. issuers or other securities or instruments that have lower trading volumes.
Commodity Risk. The Fund invests in companies that are susceptible to fluctuations in certain commodity markets. Any negative changes in commodity markets that may be due to changes in supply and demand for commodities, market events, regulatory developments or other factors that the Fund cannot control could have an adverse impact on those companies.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities and/or other assets of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class.
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's NAV is determined in U.S. dollars, the Fund's NAV could decline if the currency of a non-U.S. market in which the Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the Fund's NAV may change quickly and without warning.
Custody Risk. Less developed securities markets are more likely to experience problems with the clearing and settling of trades, as well as the holding of securities by local banks, agents and depositories.
Cybersecurity Risk. Failures or breaches of the electronic systems of the Fund, the Fund's adviser, distributor, the Index Provider and other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions, negatively impact the Fund’s business operations and/or potentially result in financial losses to the Fund and its shareholders. While the Fund has established business continuity plans and risk management systems seeking to address system breaches or failures, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems. Furthermore, the
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Fund cannot control the cybersecurity plans and systems of the Fund’s Index Provider and other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
Equity Securities Risk. Equity securities are subject to changes in value, and their values may be more volatile than those of other asset classes. The Underlying Index is comprised of common stocks, which generally subject their holders to more risks than preferred stocks and debt securities because common stockholders’ claims are subordinated to those of holders of preferred stocks and debt securities upon the bankruptcy of the issuer.
Financials Sector Risk. Performance of companies in the financials sector may be adversely impacted by many factors, including, among others, changes in government regulations, economic conditions, interest rates, credit rating downgrades, and decreased liquidity in credit markets. The extent to which the Fund may invest in a company that engages in securities-related activities or banking is limited by applicable law. The impact of changes in capital requirements and recent or future regulation of any individual financial company, or of the financials sector as a whole, cannot be predicted. In recent years, cyberattacks and technology malfunctions and failures have become increasingly frequent in this sector and have caused significant losses to companies in this sector, which may negatively impact the Fund.
Geographic Risk. A natural disaster could occur in a geographic region in which the Fund invests, which could adversely affect the economy or the
business operations of companies in the specific geographic region, causing an adverse impact on the Fund's investments in the affected region.
Index-Related Risk. There is no guarantee that the Fund’s investment results will have a high degree of correlation to those of the Underlying Index or that the Fund will achieve its investment objective. Market disruptions and regulatory restrictions could have an adverse effect on the Fund’s ability to adjust its exposure to the required levels in order to track the Underlying Index. Errors in index data, index computations or the construction of the Underlying Index in accordance with its methodology may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, which may have an adverse impact on the Fund and its shareholders.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund has exposure. Changes in the financial condition or credit rating of an issuer of those securities may cause the value of the securities to decline.
Large-Capitalization Companies Risk. Large-capitalization companies may be less able than smaller capitalization companies to adapt to changing market conditions. Large-capitalization companies may be more mature and subject to more limited growth potential compared with smaller capitalization companies. During different market cycles, the performance of large-capitalization companies has trailed the overall performance of the broader securities markets.
Management Risk. As the Fund will not fully replicate the Underlying Index, it is
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subject to the risk that BFA's investment strategy may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns.
Market Trading Risk. The Fund faces numerous market trading risks, including the potential lack of an active market for Fund shares, losses from trading in secondary markets, periods of high volatility and disruptions in the creation/redemption process. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities and/or other assets held by the Fund trade on foreign exchanges or in foreign markets that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of such an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks associated with investing in those non-U.S. markets, such as heightened risks of inflation or nationalization. The Fund may lose money due to political, economic and geographic events affecting issuers of non-U.S. securities or non-U.S. markets. In addition, non-U.S. securities
markets may trade a small number of securities and may be unable to respond effectively to changes in trading volume, potentially making prompt liquidation of holdings difficult or impossible at times. The Fund is specifically exposed to Asian Economic Risk.
Operational Risk. The Fund is exposed to operational risks arising from a number of factors, including, but not limited to, human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund’s service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate to address significant operational risks.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund is not actively managed, and BFA generally does not attempt to take defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Privatization Risk. Some countries in which the Fund invests have privatized, or have begun the process of privatizing, certain entities and industries. Privatized entities may lose money or be re-nationalized.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. The Fund invests in countries or regions whose economies are heavily dependent upon trading with key partners. Any reduction in this trading may have an adverse impact on the Fund's investments. Through its holdings of securities of certain issuers, the Fund is specifically exposed to
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Asian Economic Risk, European Economic Risk and U.S. Economic Risk.
Risk of Investing in China. Investments in Chinese securities, including certain Hong Kong-listed securities, subject the Fund to risks specific to China. Investments in certain Hong Kong-listed securities may also subject the Fund to exposure to Chinese companies. China may be subject to considerable degrees of economic, political and social instability. China is an emerging market and demonstrates significantly higher volatility from time to time in comparison to developed markets. Over the last few decades, the Chinese government has undertaken reform of economic and market practices and has expanded the sphere of private ownership of property in China. However, Chinese markets generally continue to experience inefficiency, volatility and pricing anomalies resulting from governmental influence, a lack of publicly available information and/or political and social instability. Internal social unrest or confrontations with other neighboring countries, including military conflicts in response to such events, may also disrupt economic development in China and result in a greater risk of currency fluctuations, currency non-convertibility, interest rate fluctuations and higher rates of inflation. China has experienced security concerns, such as terrorism and strained international relations. Additionally, China is alleged to have participated in state-sponsored cyberattacks against foreign companies and foreign governments. Actual and threatened responses to such activity, including purchasing restrictions, sanctions, tariffs or cyberattacks on the
Chinese government or Chinese companies, may impact China’s economy and Chinese issuers of securities in which the Fund invests. Incidents involving China's or the region's security may cause uncertainty in Chinese markets and may adversely affect the Chinese economy and the Fund's investments. Export growth continues to be a major driver of China's rapid economic growth. Reduction in spending on Chinese products and services, institution of additional tariffs or other trade barriers (including as a result of heightened trade tensions between China and the U.S., or in response to actual or alleged Chinese cyber activity) or a downturn in any of the economies of China's key trading partners may have an adverse impact on the Chinese economy. From time to time and as recently as January 2020, China has experienced outbreaks of infectious illnesses, and the country may be subject to other public health threats, infectious illnesses, diseases or similar issues in the future. Any spread of an infectious illness, public health threat or similar issue could reduce consumer demand or economic output, result in market closures, travel restrictions or quarantines, and generally have a significant impact on the Chinese economy, which in turn could adversely affect the Fund’s investments.
Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets. The Fund's investments in emerging market issuers may be subject to a greater risk of loss than investments in issuers located or operating in more developed markets. Emerging markets may be more likely to experience inflation, political turmoil and rapid changes in economic conditions than more developed
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markets. Emerging markets often have less uniformity in accounting and reporting requirements, less reliable securities valuations and greater risk associated with custody of securities than developed markets.
Risk of Investing in India. Investments in Indian issuers involve risks that are specific to India, including legal, regulatory, political and economic risks. Political and legal uncertainty, greater government control over the economy, currency fluctuations or blockage, and the risk of nationalization or expropriation of assets may result in higher potential for losses. The securities markets in India are relatively underdeveloped and may subject the Fund to higher transaction costs or greater uncertainty than investments in more developed securities markets.
Risk of Investing in Russia. Investing in Russian securities involves significant risks, including legal, regulatory and economic risks that are specific to Russia. In addition, investing in Russian securities involves risks associated with the settlement of portfolio transactions and loss of the Fund’s ownership rights in its portfolio securities as a result of the system of share registration and custody in Russia. A number of jurisdictions, including the U.S., Canada and the European Union (the “EU”), have imposed economic sanctions on certain Russian individuals and Russian corporate entities. Additionally, Russia is alleged to have participated in state-sponsored cyberattacks against foreign companies and foreign governments. Actual and threatened responses to such activity, including purchasing restrictions, sanctions, tariffs or cyberattacks on the Russian government or Russian companies, may impact Russia’s economy and Russian
issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund.
Security Risk. Some countries and regions in which the Fund invests have experienced security concerns, such as terrorism and strained international relations. Incidents involving a country's or region's security may cause uncertainty in its markets and may adversely affect its economy and the Fund's investments.
Structural Risk. The countries in which the Fund invests may be subject to considerable degrees of economic, political and social instability.
Tracking Error Risk. The Fund may be subject to tracking error, which is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including, as applicable, differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund's valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund's NAV), transaction costs incurred by the Fund, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or
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the valuation of dividends or interest, the requirements to maintain pass-through tax treatment, portfolio transactions carried out to minimize the distribution of capital gains to shareholders, changes to the Underlying Index or the costs to the Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. This risk may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions. Tracking error also may result because the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not. INDEX ETFs THAT TRACK INDICES WITH SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT IN EMERGING MARKETS ISSUERS MAY EXPERIENCE HIGHER TRACKING ERROR THAN OTHER INDEX ETFs THAT DO NOT TRACK SUCH INDICES.
Treaty/Tax Risk. The Fund and the Subsidiary rely on the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement between India and Mauritius (“DTAA”) for relief from certain Indian taxes. The DTAA has been renegotiated and as such, treaty relief is reduced or not available on investments in securities made on or after April 1, 2017, which may result in higher taxes and/or lower returns for the Fund. After April 1, 2017, the Fund may continue to
invest in the Subsidiary until an alternative method for investing in the securities of Indian issuers is selected.
Valuation Risk. The price the Fund could receive upon the sale of a security or other asset may differ from the Fund's valuation of the security or other asset and from the value used by the Underlying Index, particularly for securities or other assets that trade in low volume or volatile markets or that are valued using a fair value methodology as a result of trade suspensions or for other reasons. In addition, the value of the securities or other assets in the Fund's portfolio may change on days or during time periods when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund's shares. Authorized Participants who purchase or redeem Fund shares on days when the Fund is holding fair-valued securities may receive fewer or more shares, or lower or higher redemption proceeds, than they would have received had the Fund not fair-valued securities or used a different valuation methodology. The Fund’s ability to value investments may be impacted by technological issues or errors by pricing services or other third-party service providers.
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Performance Information
The bar chart and table that follow show how the Fund has performed on a calendar year basis and provide an indication of the risks of investing in the Fund. Both assume that all dividends and distributions have been reinvested in the Fund. Past performance (before and after taxes) does not necessarily indicate how the Fund will perform in the future. Supplemental information about the Fund’s performance is shown under the heading Total Return Information in the Supplemental Information section of the Prospectus. If BFA had not waived certain Fund fees during certain periods, the Fund's returns would have been lower.
Year by Year Returns1 (Years Ended December 31)

1 The Fund’s year-to-date return as of September 30, 2019 was 5.36%.
The best calendar quarter return during the periods shown above was 31.57% in the 2nd quarter of 2009; the worst was -22.94% in the 3rd quarter of 2011.
Updated performance information, including the Fund’s current NAV, may be obtained by visiting our website at www.iShares.com or by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) (toll free).
Average Annual Total Returns
(for the periods ended December 31, 2018)
  One Year   Five Years   Ten Years
(Inception Date: 4/7/2003)          
Return Before Taxes -14.98%   1.05%   6.82%
Return After Taxes on Distributions2 -15.26%   0.67%   6.55%
Return After Taxes on Distributions and Sale of Fund Shares2 -8.40%   0.90%   5.73%
MSCI Emerging Markets Index (Index returns do not reflect deductions for fees, expenses or taxes) -14.58%   1.65%   8.02%

2 After-tax returns in the table above are calculated using the historical highest individual U.S. federal marginal income tax rates and do not reflect the impact of state or local taxes. Actual after-tax returns depend on an investor’s tax situation and may differ from those shown, and after-tax returns shown are not relevant to tax-exempt investors or investors who hold shares through tax-deferred arrangements, such as 401(k) plans or individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”). Fund returns after taxes on distributions and sales of Fund shares are calculated assuming that an investor has sufficient capital gains of the same character from other investments to offset any capital losses from the sale of Fund shares. As a result, Fund returns after taxes on distributions and sales of Fund shares may exceed Fund returns before taxes and/or returns after taxes on distributions.
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Management
Investment Adviser. BlackRock Fund Advisors.
Portfolio Managers. Rachel Aguirre, Jennifer Hsui, Alan Mason, Greg Savage and Amy Whitelaw (the “Portfolio Managers”) are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager supervises a portfolio management team. Ms. Hsui, Mr. Mason and Mr. Savage have been Portfolio Managers of the Fund since 2012, 2016 and 2008, respectively. Ms. Aguirre and Ms. Whitelaw have been Portfolio Managers of the Fund since 2018.
Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares
The Fund is an ETF. Individual shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange. Most investors will buy and sell shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer. The price of Fund shares is based on market price, and because ETF shares trade at market prices rather than at NAV, shares may trade at a price greater than NAV (a premium) or less than NAV (a discount). The Fund will only issue or redeem shares that have been aggregated into blocks of 450,000 shares or multiples thereof (“Creation Units”) to Authorized Participants who have entered into agreements with the Fund's distributor. The Fund generally will issue or redeem Creation Units in return for a designated portfolio of securities (and an amount of cash) that the Fund specifies each day.
Tax Information
The Fund intends to make distributions that may be taxable to you as ordinary income or capital gains, unless you are investing through a tax-deferred arrangement such as a 401(k) plan or an IRA, in which case, your distributions generally will be taxed when withdrawn.
Payments to Broker-Dealers and Other Financial Intermediaries
If you purchase shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary (such as a bank), BFA or other related companies may pay the intermediary for marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems or other services related to the sale or promotion of the Fund. These payments may create a conflict of interest by influencing the broker-dealer or other intermediary and your salesperson to recommend the Fund over another investment. Ask your salesperson or visit your financial intermediary’s website for more information.
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More Information About the Fund
This Prospectus contains important information about investing in the Fund. Please read this Prospectus carefully before you make any investment decisions. Additional information regarding the Fund is available at www.iShares.com.
BFA is the investment adviser to the Fund. Shares of the Fund are listed for trading on NYSE Arca, Inc. (“NYSE Arca”). The market price for a share of the Fund may be different from the Fund’s most recent NAV.
ETFs are funds that trade like other publicly-traded securities. The Fund is designed to track an index. Similar to shares of an index mutual fund, each share of the Fund represents an ownership interest in an underlying portfolio of securities and other instruments intended to track a market index. Unlike shares of a mutual fund, which can be bought and redeemed from the issuing fund by all shareholders at a price based on NAV, shares of the Fund may be purchased or redeemed directly from the Fund at NAV solely by Authorized Participants and only in Creation Unit increments. Also unlike shares of a mutual fund, shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange and trade in the secondary market at market prices that change throughout the day.
The Fund invests in a particular segment of the securities markets and seeks to track the performance of a securities index that is not representative of the market as a whole. The Fund is designed to be used as part of broader asset allocation strategies. Accordingly, an investment in the Fund should not constitute a complete investment program.
An index is a financial calculation, based on a grouping of financial instruments, and is not an investment product, while the Fund is an actual investment portfolio. The performance of the Fund and the Underlying Index may vary for a number of reasons, including transaction costs, non-U.S. currency valuations, asset valuations, corporate actions (such as mergers and spin-offs), timing variances and differences between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index resulting from the Fund's use of representative sampling or from legal restrictions (such as diversification requirements) that apply to the Fund but not to the Underlying Index. From time to time, the Index Provider may make changes to the methodology or other adjustments to the Underlying Index. Unless otherwise determined by BFA, any such change or adjustment will be reflected in the calculation of the Underlying Index performance on a going-forward basis after the effective date of such change or adjustment. Therefore, the Underlying Index performance shown for periods prior to the effective date of any such change or adjustment will generally not be recalculated or restated to reflect such change or adjustment.
“Tracking error” is the divergence of the Fund's performance from that of the Underlying Index. BFA expects that, over time, the Fund’s tracking error will not exceed 5%. Because the Fund uses a representative sampling indexing strategy, it can be expected to have a larger tracking error than if it used a replication indexing strategy. “Replication” is an indexing strategy in which a fund invests in substantially all of the
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securities in its underlying index in approximately the same proportions as in the underlying index.
Under continuous listing standards adopted by the Fund's listing exchange, the Fund is required to confirm on an ongoing basis that the components of the Underlying Index satisfy the applicable listing requirements. In the event that the Underlying Index does not comply with the applicable listing requirements, the Fund is required to rectify such non-compliance by requesting that the Index Provider modify the Underlying Index, adopting a new underlying index, or obtaining relief from the SEC. Failure to rectify such non-compliance may result in the Fund being delisted by the listing exchange.
The Fund may borrow as a temporary measure for extraordinary or emergency purposes, including to meet redemptions or to facilitate the settlement of securities or other transactions. The Fund does not intend to borrow money in order to leverage its portfolio.
An investment in the Fund is not a bank deposit and it is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency, BFA or any of its affiliates.
The Fund's investment objective and the Underlying Index may be changed without shareholder approval.
A Further Discussion of Principal Risks
The Fund is subject to various risks, including the principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund’s NAV, trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. You could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund could underperform other investments. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Asian Economic Risk. Many Asian economies have experienced rapid growth and industrialization in recent years, but there is no assurance that this growth rate will be maintained. Other Asian economies, however, have experienced high inflation, high unemployment, currency devaluations and restrictions, and over-extension of credit. Geopolitical hostility, political instability, and economic or environmental events in any one Asian country may have a significant economic effect on the entire Asian region, as well as on major trading partners outside Asia. Any adverse event in the Asian markets may have a significant adverse effect on some or all of the economies of the countries in which the Fund invests. Many Asian countries are subject to political risk, including political instability, corruption and regional conflict with neighboring countries. North Korea and South Korea each have substantial military capabilities, and historical tensions between the two countries present the risk of war. Escalated tensions involving the two countries and any outbreak of hostilities between the two countries, or even the threat of an outbreak of hostilities, could have a severe adverse effect on the entire Asian region. Certain Asian countries have developed increasingly strained relationships with the U.S., and if these relations were to worsen, they could adversely affect Asian issuers that rely on the U.S. for trade. In addition, many Asian countries are subject to social and labor risks associated with demands for improved
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political, economic and social conditions. These risks, among others, may adversely affect the value of the Fund's investments.
Asset Class Risk. The securities and other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund’s portfolio may underperform in comparison to other securities or indexes that track other countries, groups of countries, regions, industries, groups of industries, markets, asset classes or sectors. Various types of securities, currencies and indexes may experience cycles of outperformance and underperformance in comparison to the general financial markets depending upon a number of factors including, among other things, inflation, interest rates, productivity, global demand for local products or resources, and regulation and governmental controls. This may cause the Fund to underperform other investment vehicles that invest in different asset classes.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund, and none of those Authorized Participants is obligated to engage in creation and/or redemption transactions. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units, Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration risk may be heightened because ETFs, such as the Fund, that invest in securities issued by non-U.S. issuers or other securities or instruments that are less widely traded often involve greater settlement and operational issues and capital costs for Authorized Participants, which may limit the availability of Authorized Participants.
Commodity Risk. The energy, materials, and agriculture sectors account for a large portion of the exports of certain countries in which the Fund invests. Any changes in these sectors or fluctuations in the commodity markets could have an adverse impact on a country's economy. Commodity prices may be influenced or characterized by unpredictable factors, including, where applicable, high volatility, changes in supply and demand relationships, weather, agriculture, trade, pestilence, political instability, changes in interest rates and monetary and other governmental policies, action and inaction, including price changes due to trade relations, including the imposition of tariffs by the U.S. and other importing countries. Securities of companies held by the Fund that are dependent on a single commodity, or are concentrated in a single commodity sector, may typically exhibit even higher volatility attributable to commodity prices.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities and/or other assets of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class. The Fund may be more adversely affected by the underperformance of those securities and/or other assets, may experience increased price volatility and may be more susceptible to
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adverse economic, market, political or regulatory occurrences affecting those securities and/or other assets than a fund that does not concentrate its investments.
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's NAV is determined on the basis of the U.S. dollar, investors may lose money if the currency of a non-U.S. market in which the Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency, even if such currency value of the Fund's holdings in that market increases. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the Fund’s NAV may change quickly and without warning.
Custody Risk. Custody risk refers to the risks inherent in the process of clearing and settling trades, as well as the holding of securities by local banks, agents and depositories. Low trading volumes and volatile prices in less developed markets may make trades harder to complete and settle, and governments or trade groups may compel local agents to hold securities in designated depositories that may not be subject to independent evaluation. Local agents are held only to the standards of care of their local markets. In general, the less developed a country’s securities markets are, the higher the degree of custody risk.
Cybersecurity Risk. With the increased use of technologies such as the internet to conduct business, the Fund, Authorized Participants, service providers and the relevant listing exchange are susceptible to operational, information security and related “cyber” risks both directly and through their service providers. Similar types of cybersecurity risks are also present for issuers of securities in which the Fund invests, which could result in material adverse consequences for such issuers and may cause the Fund’s investment in such portfolio companies to lose value. Unlike many other types of risks faced by the Fund, these risks typically are not covered by insurance. In general, cyber incidents can result from deliberate attacks or unintentional events. Cyber incidents include, but are not limited to, gaining unauthorized access to digital systems (e.g., through “hacking” or malicious software coding) for purposes of misappropriating assets or sensitive information, corrupting data, or causing operational disruption. Cyberattacks may also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on websites (i.e., efforts to make network services unavailable to intended users). Recently, geopolitical tensions may have increased the scale and sophistication of deliberate attacks, particularly those from nation-states or from entities with nation-state backing.
Cybersecurity failures by or breaches of the systems of the Fund’s adviser, distributor and other service providers (including, but not limited to, index and benchmark providers, fund accountants, custodians, transfer agents and administrators), market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests, have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in: financial losses, interference with the Fund’s ability to calculate its NAV, disclosure of confidential trading information, impediments to trading, submission of erroneous trades or erroneous creation or redemption orders, the inability of the Fund or its service providers to transact business, violations of applicable privacy and other laws, regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other
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compensation costs, or additional compliance costs. In addition, cyberattacks may render records of Fund assets and transactions, shareholder ownership of Fund shares, and other data integral to the functioning of the Fund inaccessible or inaccurate or incomplete. Substantial costs may be incurred by the Fund in order to resolve or prevent cyber incidents in the future. While the Fund has established business continuity plans in the event of, and risk management systems to prevent, such cyber incidents, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems, including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified and that prevention and remediation efforts will not be successful or that cyberattacks will go undetected. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cybersecurity plans and systems put in place by service providers to the Fund, issuers in which the Fund invests, the Index Provider, market makers or Authorized Participants. The Fund and its shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result.
Equity Securities Risk. The Fund invests in equity securities, which are subject to changes in value that may be attributable to market perception of a particular issuer or to general stock market fluctuations that affect all issuers. Investments in equity securities may be more volatile than investments in other asset classes. The Underlying Index is comprised of common stocks, which generally subject their holders to more risks than preferred stocks and debt securities because common stockholders' claims are subordinated to those of holders of preferred stocks and debt securities upon the bankruptcy of the issuer.
European Economic Risk. The EU requires compliance by member states with restrictions on inflation rates, deficits, interest rates and debt levels, as well as fiscal and monetary controls, each of which may significantly affect every country in Europe, including those countries that are not members of the EU. Changes in imports or exports, changes in governmental or EU regulations on trade, changes in the exchange rate of the euro (the common currency of certain EU countries), the default or threat of default by an EU member state on its sovereign debt and/or an economic recession in an EU member state may have a significant adverse effect on the economies of other EU member states and their trading partners. The European financial markets have historically experienced volatility and adverse trends due to concerns about economic downturns or rising government debt levels in several European countries, including, but not limited to, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ukraine. These events have adversely affected the exchange rate of the euro and may continue to significantly affect European countries.
Responses to financial problems by European governments, central banks and others, including austerity measures and reforms, may not produce the desired results, may result in social unrest, may limit future growth and economic recovery or may have other unintended consequences. Further defaults or restructurings by governments and other entities of their debt could have additional adverse effects on economies, financial markets and asset valuations around the world. In addition, one or more countries may abandon the euro and/or withdraw from the EU. In a referendum held on June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom (the “U.K.”) resolved to leave the EU (“Brexit”). The referendum has introduced significant uncertainties and instability in the financial markets as the U.K. negotiates its exit from the EU. The outcome of negotiations
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remains uncertain. U.K. and European businesses are increasingly preparing for a disorderly Brexit, and the consequences for European and U.K. businesses could be severe. The Fund will face risks associated with the potential uncertainty and consequences leading up to and that may follow Brexit, including with respect to volatility in exchange rates and interest rates. Brexit could adversely affect European or worldwide political, regulatory, economic or market conditions and could contribute to instability in global political institutions, regulatory agencies and financial markets. Brexit has also led to legal uncertainty and could lead to politically divergent national laws and regulations as a new relationship between the U.K. and EU is defined and the U.K. determines which EU laws to replace or replicate. Any of these effects of Brexit could adversely affect any of the companies to which the Fund has exposure and any other assets in which the Fund invests. The political, economic and legal consequences of Brexit are not yet known. In the short term, financial markets may experience heightened volatility, particularly those in the U.K. and Europe, but possibly worldwide. The U.K. and Europe may be less stable than they have been in recent years, and investments in the U.K. and the EU may be difficult to value, or subject to greater or more frequent rises and falls in value. In the longer term, there is likely to be a period of significant political, regulatory and commercial uncertainty as the U.K. seeks to negotiate its long-term exit from the EU and the terms of its future trading relationships.
Secessionist movements, such as the Catalan movement in Spain and the independence movement in Scotland, as well as governmental or other responses to such movements, may also create instability and uncertainty in the region. In addition, the national politics of countries in the EU have been unpredictable and subject to influence by disruptive political groups and ideologies. The governments of EU countries may be subject to change and such countries may experience social and political unrest. Unanticipated or sudden political or social developments may result in sudden and significant investment losses. The occurrence of terrorist incidents throughout Europe also could impact financial markets. The impact of these events is not clear but could be significant and far-reaching and could adversely affect the value and liquidity of the Fund's investments.
Financials Sector Risk. Companies in the financials sector of an economy are subject to extensive governmental regulation and intervention, which may adversely affect the scope of their activities, the prices they can charge, the amount of capital they must maintain and, potentially, their size. The extent to which the Fund may invest in a company that engages in securities-related activities or banking is limited by applicable law. Governmental regulation may change frequently and may have significant adverse consequences for companies in the financials sector, including effects not intended by such regulation. Recently enacted legislation in the U.S. has relaxed capital requirements and other regulatory burdens on certain U.S. banks. While the effect of the legislation may benefit certain companies in the financials sector, including non-U.S. financials sector companies, increased risk taking by affected banks may also result in greater overall risk in the U.S. and global financials sector. The impact of changes in capital requirements, or recent or future regulation in various countries, on any individual financial company or on the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. Certain risks may impact the value of investments in the
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financials sector more severely than those of investments outside this sector, including the risks associated with companies that operate with substantial financial leverage. Companies in the financials sector may also be adversely affected by increases in interest rates and loan losses, decreases in the availability of money or asset valuations, credit rating downgrades and adverse conditions in other related markets. Insurance companies, in particular, may be subject to severe price competition and/or rate regulation, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability. The financials sector is particularly sensitive to fluctuations in interest rates. The financials sector is also a target for cyberattacks, and may experience technology malfunctions and disruptions. In recent years, cyberattacks and technology malfunctions and failures have become increasingly frequent in this sector and have reportedly caused losses to companies in this sector, which may negatively impact the Fund.
Geographic Risk. Some of the companies in which the Fund invests are located in parts of the world that have historically been prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, droughts, hurricanes or tsunamis, and are economically sensitive to environmental events. Any such event may adversely impact the economies of these geographic areas or business operations of companies in these geographic areas, causing an adverse impact on the value of the Fund.
Index-Related Risk. The Fund seeks to achieve a return that corresponds generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Underlying Index as published by the Index Provider. There is no assurance that the Index Provider or any agents that may act on its behalf will compile the Underlying Index accurately, or that the Underlying Index will be determined, composed or calculated accurately. While the Index Provider provides descriptions of what the Underlying Index is designed to achieve, neither the Index Provider nor its agents provide any warranty or accept any liability in relation to the quality, accuracy or completeness of the Underlying Index or its related data, and they do not guarantee that the Underlying Index will be in line with the Index Provider’s methodology. BFA’s mandate as described in this Prospectus is to manage the Fund consistently with the Underlying Index provided by the Index Provider to BFA. BFA does not provide any warranty or guarantee against the Index Provider’s or any agent’s errors. Errors in respect of the quality, accuracy and completeness of the data used to compile the Underlying Index may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, particularly where the indices are less commonly used as benchmarks by funds or managers. Such errors may negatively or positively impact the Fund and its shareholders. For example, during a period where the Underlying Index contains incorrect constituents, the Fund would have market exposure to such constituents and would be underexposed to the Underlying Index’s other constituents. Shareholders should understand that any gains from Index Provider errors will be kept by the Fund and its shareholders and any losses or costs resulting from Index Provider errors will be borne by the Fund and its shareholders.
Apart from scheduled rebalances, the Index Provider or its agents may carry out additional ad hoc rebalances to the Underlying Index in order, for example, to correct an error in the selection of index constituents. When the Underlying Index is rebalanced and the Fund in turn rebalances its portfolio to attempt to increase the
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correlation between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index, any transaction costs and market exposure arising from such portfolio rebalancing will be borne directly by the Fund and its shareholders. Therefore, errors and additional ad hoc rebalances carried out by the Index Provider or its agents to the Underlying Index may increase the costs to and the tracking error risk of the Fund.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund has exposure. Any issuer of these securities may perform poorly, causing the value of its securities to decline. Poor performance may be caused by poor management decisions, competitive pressures, changes in technology, expiration of patent protection, disruptions in supply, labor problems or shortages, corporate restructurings, fraudulent disclosures, credit deterioration of the issuer or other factors. Issuers may, in times of distress or at their own discretion, decide to reduce or eliminate dividends, which may also cause their stock prices to decline. An issuer may also be subject to risks associated with the countries, states and regions in which the issuer resides, invests, sells products, or otherwise conducts operations.
Large-Capitalization Companies Risk. Large-capitalization companies may be less able than smaller capitalization companies to adapt to changing market conditions. Large-capitalization companies may be more mature and subject to more limited growth potential compared with smaller capitalization companies. During different market cycles, the performance of large-capitalization companies has trailed the overall performance of the broader securities markets.
Management Risk. Because BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy, the Fund will not fully replicate the Underlying Index and may hold securities not included in the Underlying Index. As a result, the Fund is subject to the risk that BFA’s investment strategy, the implementation of which is subject to a number of constraints, may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns. The value of a security or other asset may decline due to changes in general market conditions, economic trends or events that are not specifically related to the issuer of the security or other asset, or factors that affect a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class. During a general market downturn, multiple asset classes may be negatively affected. Changes in market conditions and interest rates generally do not have the same impact on all types of securities and instruments.
Market Trading Risk
Absence of Active Market. Although shares of the Fund are listed for trading on one or more stock exchanges, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained by market makers or Authorized Participants.
Risk of Secondary Listings. The Fund's shares may be listed or traded on U.S. and non-U.S. stock exchanges other than the U.S. stock exchange where the Fund's primary listing is maintained, and may otherwise be made available to non-U.S. investors through funds or structured investment vehicles similar to depositary receipts. There
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can be no assurance that the Fund’s shares will continue to trade on any such stock exchange or in any market or that the Fund’s shares will continue to meet the requirements for listing or trading on any exchange or in any market. The Fund's shares may be less actively traded in certain markets than in others, and investors are subject to the execution and settlement risks and market standards of the market where they or their broker direct their trades for execution. Certain information available to investors who trade Fund shares on a U.S. stock exchange during regular U.S. market hours may not be available to investors who trade in other markets, which may result in secondary market prices in such markets being less efficient.
Secondary Market Trading Risk. Shares of the Fund may trade in the secondary market at times when the Fund does not accept orders to purchase or redeem shares. At such times, shares may trade in the secondary market with more significant premiums or discounts than might be experienced at times when the Fund accepts purchase and redemption orders.
Secondary market trading in Fund shares may be halted by a stock exchange because of market conditions or for other reasons. In addition, trading in Fund shares on a stock exchange or in any market may be subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to “circuit breaker” rules on the stock exchange or market.
Shares of the Fund, similar to shares of other issuers listed on a stock exchange, may be sold short and are therefore subject to the risk of increased volatility and price decreases associated with being sold short.
Shares of the Fund May Trade at Prices Other Than NAV. Shares of the Fund trade on stock exchanges at prices at, above or below the Fund’s most recent NAV. The NAV of the Fund is calculated at the end of each business day and fluctuates with changes in the market value of the Fund’s holdings. The trading price of the Fund's shares fluctuates continuously throughout trading hours based on both market supply of and demand for Fund shares and the underlying value of the Fund's portfolio holdings or NAV. As a result, the trading prices of the Fund’s shares may deviate significantly from NAV during periods of market volatility. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV. However, because shares can be created and redeemed in Creation Units at NAV, BFA believes that large discounts or premiums to the NAV of the Fund are not likely to be sustained over the long term (unlike shares of many closed-end funds, which frequently trade at appreciable discounts from, and sometimes at premiums to, their NAVs). While the creation/redemption feature is designed to make it more likely that the Fund’s shares normally will trade on stock exchanges at prices close to the Fund’s next calculated NAV, exchange prices are not expected to correlate exactly with the Fund's NAV due to timing reasons, supply and demand imbalances and other factors. In addition, disruptions to creations and redemptions, including disruptions at market makers, Authorized Participants, or other market participants, and during periods of significant market volatility, may result in trading prices for shares of the Fund that differ significantly from its NAV. Authorized Participants may be less willing to create or redeem Fund shares if there is a lack of an active market for such shares
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or its underlying investments, which may contribute to the Fund’s shares trading at a premium or discount to NAV.
Costs of Buying or Selling Fund Shares. Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange involves two types of costs that apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you will likely incur a brokerage commission and other charges. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread”; that is, the difference between what investors are willing to pay for Fund shares (the “bid” price) and the price at which they are willing to sell Fund shares (the “ask” price). The spread, which varies over time for shares of the Fund based on trading volume and market liquidity, is generally narrower if the Fund has more trading volume and market liquidity and wider if the Fund has less trading volume and market liquidity. In addition, increased market volatility may cause wider spreads. There may also be regulatory and other charges that are incurred as a result of trading activity. Because of the costs inherent in buying or selling Fund shares, frequent trading may detract significantly from investment results and an investment in Fund shares may not be advisable for investors who anticipate regularly making small investments through a brokerage account.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities and/or other assets held by the Fund trade on foreign exchanges or in foreign markets that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks of investing in the markets where such issuers are located, including heightened risks of inflation, nationalization and market fluctuations caused by economic and political developments. As a result of investing in non-U.S. securities, the Fund may be subject to increased risk of loss caused by any of the factors listed below:
A lack of market liquidity and market efficiency;
Greater securities price volatility;
Exchange rate fluctuations and exchange controls;
Less availability of public information about issuers;
Limitations on foreign ownership of securities;
Imposition of withholding or other taxes;
Imposition of restrictions on the expatriation of the funds or other assets of the Fund;
Higher transaction and custody costs and delays in settlement procedures;
Difficulties in enforcing contractual obligations;
Lower levels of regulation of the securities markets;
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Weaker accounting, disclosure and reporting requirements; and
Legal principles relating to corporate governance, directors’ fiduciary duties and liabilities and stockholders’ rights in markets in which the Fund invests may differ from and/or may not be as extensive or protective as those that apply in the U.S.
Operational Risk. The Fund is exposed to operational risks arising from a number of factors, including, but not limited to, human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund's service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate to address significant operational risks.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund is not actively managed and may be affected by a general decline in market segments related to the Underlying Index. The Fund invests in securities included in, or representative of, the Underlying Index, regardless of their investment merits. BFA generally does not attempt to invest the Fund's assets in defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Privatization Risk. Some countries in which the Fund invests have privatized, or have begun the process of privatizing, certain entities and industries. Newly privatized companies may face strong competition from government-sponsored competitors that have not been privatized. In some instances, investors in newly privatized entities have suffered losses due to the inability of the newly privatized entities to adjust quickly to a competitive environment or changing regulatory and legal standards or, in some cases, due to re-nationalization of such privatized entities. There is no assurance that similar losses will not recur.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. Economies in emerging market countries generally are heavily dependent upon commodity prices and international trade. Accordingly, these countries have been, and may continue to be, affected adversely by the economies of their trading partners, trade barriers, exchange controls or managed adjustments in relative currency values and may suffer from extreme and volatile debt burdens or inflation rates. These countries may be subject to other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade.
Risk of Investing in China. Investments in Chinese securities, including certain Hong Kong-listed securities, subject the Fund to risks specific to China. The Chinese economy is subject to a considerable degree of economic, political and social instability. Investments in certain Hong Kong-listed securities may also subject the Fund to exposure to Chinese companies.
Political and Social Risk. The Chinese government is authoritarian and has periodically used force to suppress civil dissent. Disparities of wealth and the pace of economic liberalization may lead to social turmoil, violence and labor unrest. In addition, China continues to experience disagreements related to integration with Hong Kong and religious and nationalist disputes in Tibet and Xinjiang. There is also a greater risk in China than in many other countries of currency fluctuations, currency non-convertibility, interest rate fluctuations and higher rates of inflation as a result of internal social unrest or conflicts with other countries. Unanticipated political or social
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developments may result in sudden and significant investment losses. China's growing income inequality, rapidly aging population and significant environmental issues also are factors that may affect the Chinese economy.
Government Control and Regulations. The Chinese government has implemented significant economic reforms in order to liberalize trade policy, promote foreign investment in the economy, reduce government control of the economy and develop market mechanisms. There can be no assurance these reforms will continue or that they will be effective. Despite recent reform and privatizations, government control over certain sectors or enterprises and significant regulation of investment and industry is still pervasive, including restrictions on investment in companies or industries deemed to be sensitive to particular national interests, and the Chinese government may restrict foreign ownership of Chinese corporations and/or the repatriation of assets by foreign investors. Limitations or restrictions on foreign ownership of securities may have adverse effects on the liquidity and performance of the Fund, and could lead to higher tracking error. Chinese government intervention in the market may have a negative impact on market sentiment, which may in turn affect the performance of the Chinese economy and the Fund’s investments. Chinese markets generally continue to experience inefficiency, volatility and pricing anomalies that may be connected to governmental influence, lack of publicly-available information and/or political and social instability.
Infectious Illness Risk. From time to time and as recently as January 2020, China has experienced outbreaks of infectious illnesses, and the country may be subject to other public health threats, infectious illnesses, diseases or similar issues in the future. Any spread of an infectious illness, public health threat or similar issue could reduce consumer demand or economic output, result in market closures, travel restrictions or quarantines, and generally have a significant impact on the Chinese economy, which in turn could adversely affect the Fund’s investments.
Economic Risk. The Chinese economy has grown rapidly in the recent past and there is no assurance that this growth rate will be maintained. In fact, the Chinese economy may experience a significant slowdown as a result of, among other things, a deterioration in global demand for Chinese exports, as well as contraction in spending on domestic goods by Chinese consumers. In addition, China may experience substantial rates of inflation or economic recessions, which would have a negative effect on its economy and securities market. Delays in enterprise restructuring, slow development of well-functioning financial markets and widespread corruption have also hindered performance of the Chinese economy. China continues to receive substantial pressure from trading partners to liberalize official currency exchange rates. Reduction in spending on Chinese products and services, institution of additional tariffs or other trade barriers (including as a result of heightened trade tensions between China and the U.S. or in response to actual or alleged Chinese cyber activity) or a downturn in any of the economies of China’s key trading partners may have an adverse impact on the Chinese economy and the Chinese issuers of securities in which the Fund invests. For example, the U.S. has added certain foreign technology companies to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security’s “Entity List,” which is a list of companies believed to pose a national security risk to the
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U.S. Actions like these may have unanticipated and disruptive effects on the Chinese economy. Any such response that targets Chinese financial markets or securities exchanges could interfere with orderly trading, delay settlement or cause market disruptions.
Expropriation Risk. The Chinese government maintains a major role in economic policymaking and investing in China involves risk of loss due to expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and on repatriation of capital invested.
Security Risk. China has strained international relations with Taiwan, India, Russia and other neighbors due to territorial disputes, historical animosities, defense concerns and other security concerns. Additionally, China is alleged to have participated in state-sponsored cyberattacks against foreign companies and foreign governments. Actual and threatened responses to such activity, including purchasing restrictions, sanctions, tariffs or cyberattacks on the Chinese government or Chinese companies, may impact China’s economy and Chinese issuers of securities in which the Fund invests. Relations between China's Han ethnic majority and other ethnic groups in China, including Tibetans and Uighurs, are also strained and have been marked by protests and violence. These situations may cause uncertainty in the Chinese market and may adversely affect the Chinese economy. In addition, conflict on the Korean Peninsula could adversely affect the Chinese economy.
Chinese Equity Markets. The Fund may invest in H-shares (securities of companies incorporated in the People's Republic of China (“PRC”) that are denominated in Hong Kong dollars and listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong), A-shares (securities of companies incorporated in the PRC that are denominated in renminbi and listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange (“SSE”) and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (“SZSE”)) and B-shares (securities of companies incorporated in the PRC that are denominated in U.S. dollars (in the case of the SSE) or Hong Kong dollars (in the case of the SZSE) and listed on the SSE and the SZSE). The Fund may also invest in certain Hong Kong listed securities known as Red-Chips (securities issued by companies incorporated in certain foreign jurisdictions, which are controlled, directly or indirectly, by entities owned by the national government or local governments in the PRC and derive substantial revenues from or allocate substantial assets in the PRC) and P-Chips (securities issued by companies incorporated in certain foreign jurisdictions, which are controlled, directly or indirectly, by individuals in the PRC and derive substantial revenues from or allocate substantial assets in the PRC). The issuance of B-shares and H-shares by Chinese companies and the ability to obtain a “back-door listing” through Red-Chips or P-Chips is still regarded by the Chinese authorities as an experiment in economic reform. “Back-door listing” is a means by which a mainland Chinese company issues Red-Chips or P-Chips to obtain quick access to international listing and international capital. All of these share mechanisms are relatively untested and subject to political and economic policies in China.
Hong Kong Political Risk. Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997 as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the PRC under the principle of “one country, two systems.” Although China is obligated to maintain the current capitalist economic and social system of Hong Kong through June 30, 2047, the continuation of economic
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and social freedoms enjoyed in Hong Kong is dependent on the government of China. Since 1997, there have been tensions between the Chinese government and many people in Hong Kong who perceive China as tightening of control over Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous liberal political, economic, legal, and social framework. Recent protests and unrest have increased tensions even further. Due to the interconnected nature of the Hong Kong and Chinese economies, this instability in Hong Kong may cause uncertainty in the Hong Kong and Chinese markets. In addition, the Hong Kong dollar trades at a fixed exchange rate in relation to (or, is “pegged” to) the U.S. dollar, which has contributed to the growth and stability of the Hong Kong economy. However, it is uncertain how long the currency peg will continue or what effect the establishment of an alternative exchange rate system would have on the Hong Kong economy. Because the Fund's NAV is denominated in U.S. dollars, the establishment of an alternative exchange rate system could result in a decline in the Fund's NAV.
Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets. Investments in emerging market issuers are subject to a greater risk of loss than investments in issuers located or operating in more developed markets. This is due to, among other things, the potential for greater market volatility, lower trading volume, higher levels of inflation, political and economic instability, greater risk of a market shutdown and more governmental limitations on foreign investments in emerging market countries than are typically found in more developed markets. Moreover, emerging markets often have less uniformity in accounting and reporting requirements, less reliable securities valuations and greater risks associated with custody of securities than developed markets. In addition, emerging markets often have greater risk of capital controls through such measures as taxes or interest rate control than developed markets. Certain emerging market countries may also lack the infrastructure necessary to attract large amounts of foreign trade and investment. Local securities markets in emerging market countries may trade a small number of securities and may be unable to respond effectively to changes in trading volume, potentially making prompt liquidation of holdings difficult or impossible at times. Settlement procedures in emerging market countries are frequently less developed and reliable than those in the U.S. (and other developed countries). In addition, significant delays may occur in certain markets in registering the transfer of securities. Settlement or registration problems may make it more difficult for the Fund to value its portfolio securities and could cause the Fund to miss attractive investment opportunities.
Investing in emerging market countries involves a higher risk of loss due to expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and on repatriation of capital invested in certain emerging market countries.
Risk of Investing in India. India is an emerging market country and exhibits significantly greater market volatility from time to time in comparison to more developed markets. Political and legal uncertainty, greater government control over the economy, currency fluctuations or blockage, and the risk of nationalization or expropriation of assets may result in higher potential for losses.
Moreover, governmental actions can have a significant effect on the economic conditions in India, which could adversely affect the value and liquidity of the Fund's
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investments. In November 2016, the Indian government eliminated certain large denomination cash notes as legal tender, causing uncertainty in certain financial markets. The securities markets in India are comparatively underdeveloped, and stockbrokers and other intermediaries may not perform as well as their counterparts in the U.S. and other more developed securities markets. The limited liquidity of the Indian securities markets may also affect the Fund’s ability to acquire or dispose of securities at the price and time that it desires.
Global factors and foreign actions may inhibit the flow of foreign capital on which India is dependent to sustain its growth. In addition, the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”) has imposed limits on foreign ownership of Indian securities, which may decrease the liquidity of the Fund’s portfolio and result in extreme volatility in the prices of Indian securities. These factors, coupled with the lack of extensive accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards and practices, as compared to the U.S., may increase the Fund's risk of loss.
Further, certain Indian regulatory approvals, including approvals from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”), the RBI, the central government and the tax authorities (to the extent that tax benefits need to be utilized), may be required before the Fund can make investments in the securities of Indian companies. Capital gains from Indian securities may be subject to local taxation.
Risk of Investing in Russia. Investing in Russian securities involves significant risks, in addition to those described under “Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets” and “Non-U.S. Securities Risk” that are not typically associated with investing in U.S. securities, including:
The risk of delays in settling portfolio transactions and the risk of loss arising out of the system of share registration and custody used in Russia;
Risks in connection with the maintenance of the Fund’s portfolio securities and cash with foreign sub-custodians and securities depositories, including the risk that appropriate sub-custody arrangements will not be available to the Fund;
The risk that the Fund’s ownership rights in portfolio securities could be lost through fraud or negligence because ownership in shares of Russian companies is recorded by the companies themselves and by registrars, rather than by a central registration system;
The risk that the Fund may not be able to pursue claims on behalf of its shareholders because of the system of share registration and custody, and because Russian banking institutions and registrars are not guaranteed by the Russian government; and
The risk that various responses by other nation-states to alleged Russian cyber activity will impact Russia’s economy and Russian issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
Russia Sanctions. The U.S. and the Economic and Monetary Union of the EU, along with the regulatory bodies of a number of countries including Japan, Australia, Norway, Switzerland and Canada (collectively, “Sanctioning Bodies”), have imposed economic sanctions, which consist of prohibiting certain securities trades, prohibiting certain private transactions in the energy sector, asset freezes and prohibition of all business,
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with certain Russian individuals and Russian corporate entities. The Sanctioning Bodies could also institute broader sanctions on Russia. These sanctions, or even the threat of further sanctions, may result in the decline of the value and liquidity of Russian securities, a weakening of the ruble or other adverse consequences to the Russian economy. These sanctions could also result in the immediate freeze of Russian securities and/or funds invested in prohibited assets, impairing the ability of the Fund to buy, sell, receive or deliver those securities and/or assets.
The sanctions against certain Russian issuers include prohibitions on transacting in or dealing in issuances of debt or equity of such issuers. Compliance with each of these sanctions may impair the ability of the Fund to buy, sell, hold, receive or deliver the affected securities or other securities of such issuers. If it becomes impracticable or unlawful for the Fund to hold securities subject to, or otherwise affected by, sanctions (collectively, “affected securities”), or if deemed appropriate by BFA, the Fund may prohibit in-kind deposits of the affected securities in connection with creation transactions and instead require a cash deposit, which may also increase the Fund's transaction costs. The Fund may also be legally required to freeze assets in a blocked account.
Also, if an affected security is included in the Fund's Underlying Index, the Fund may, where practicable, seek to eliminate its holdings of the affected security by employing or augmenting its representative sampling strategy to seek to track the investment results of its Underlying Index. The use of (or increased use of) a representative sampling strategy may increase the Fund’s tracking error risk. If the affected securities constitute a significant percentage of the Underlying Index, the Fund may not be able to effectively implement a representative sampling strategy, which may result in significant tracking error between the Fund’s performance and the performance of its Underlying Index.
Current or future sanctions may result in Russia taking counter measures or retaliatory actions, which may further impair the value and liquidity of Russian securities. These retaliatory measures may include the immediate freeze of Russian assets held by the Fund. In the event of such a freeze of any Fund assets, including depositary receipts, the Fund may need to liquidate non-restricted assets in order to satisfy any Fund redemption orders. The liquidation of Fund assets during this time may also result in the Fund receiving substantially lower prices for its securities.
These sanctions may also lead to changes in the Fund’s Underlying Index. The Fund’s Index Provider may remove securities from the Underlying Index or implement caps on the securities of certain issuers that have been subject to recent economic sanctions. In such an event, it is expected that the Fund will rebalance its portfolio to bring it in line with the Underlying Index as a result of any such changes, which may result in transaction costs and increased tracking error. These sanctions, the volatility that may result in the trading markets for Russian securities and the possibility that Russia may impose investment or currency controls on investors may cause the Fund to invest in, or increase the Fund’s investments in, depositary receipts that represent the securities of the Underlying Index. These investments may result in increased transaction costs and increased tracking error.
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Securities Lending Risk. The Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BTC”), the Fund's securities lending agent, will take into account the tax impact to shareholders of substitute payments for dividends when managing the Fund's securities lending program.
Security Risk. Some geographic areas in which the Fund invests have experienced acts of terrorism and strained international relations due to territorial disputes, historical animosities, defense concerns and other security concerns. These situations may cause uncertainty in the markets of these geographic areas and may adversely affect their economies.
Structural Risk. Certain political, economic, legal and currency risks could contribute to a high degree of price volatility in the equity markets of some of the countries in which the Fund may invest and could adversely affect investments in the Fund.
Political and Social Risk. Disparities of wealth, the pace and success of democratization and ethnic, religious and racial disaffection, among other factors, may exacerbate social unrest, violence and labor unrest in some of the countries in which the Fund may invest. Unanticipated or sudden political or social developments may result in sudden and significant investment losses.
Economic Risk. Some countries in which the Fund may invest may experience economic instability, including instability resulting from substantial rates of inflation or significant devaluations of their currency, or economic recessions, which would have a negative effect on the economies and securities markets of their economies. Some of these countries may also impose restrictions on the exchange or export of currency or adverse currency exchange rates and may be characterized by a lack of available currency hedging instruments.
Expropriation Risk. Investments in certain countries in which the Fund may invest may be subject to loss due to expropriation or nationalization of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and repatriation of capital.
Large Government Debt Risk. Chronic structural public sector deficits in some countries in which the Fund may invest may adversely impact securities held by the Fund.
Tracking Error Risk. The Fund may be subject to tracking error, which is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including, as applicable, differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund's valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund's NAV), transaction costs incurred by the Fund, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or interest, the requirements to maintain pass-through tax treatment, portfolio transactions
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carried out to minimize the distribution of capital gains to shareholders, changes to the Underlying Index or the costs to the Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. This risk may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions. Tracking error also may result because the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not. INDEX ETFs THAT TRACK INDICES WITH SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT IN EMERGING MARKETS ISSUERS MAY EXPERIENCE HIGHER TRACKING ERROR THAN OTHER INDEX ETFs THAT DO NOT TRACK SUCH INDICES.
Treaty/Tax Risk. The Fund operates, in part, through the Subsidiary, which in turn invests in securities of Indian issuers.
An investor is required to submit the tax residency certificate as issued in the country of residence and provide other documents and information as prescribed by the Government of India to claim benefits under the DTAA.
The revised DTAA provides that capital gains that arise from alienation of shares of an Indian company acquired by a Mauritian tax resident, on or after April 1, 2017, would be taxable in India. However, the DTAA also provides for grandfathering of investments in shares made before April 1, 2017. The application of such provisions of the DTAA could result in the imposition of withholding and capital gains taxes and/or other taxes on the Subsidiary by tax authorities in India. This could significantly reduce the return to the Fund on its investments in shares and the return received by the Fund’s shareholders.
Criteria for Residence of Companies in India.
A foreign company will be considered a resident in India if its place of effective management (“POEM”) (defined as a place where key management and commercial decisions that are necessary for the conduct of the business of an entity as a whole are in substance made) is in India in the relevant financial year. This test is to be applied taking the relevant financial year as a whole into consideration. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (“CBDT”) has clarified that the provisions in relation to POEM shall not apply to a company having turnover of Indian Rupee (“INR”) 500 million or less in a year.
Indirect Transfers.
The current legislation, (Indian) Income Tax Act, 1961 (“IT Act”) imposes Indian tax and withholding obligations with respect to the transfer of shares and interest in an overseas company that derives its value substantially from assets situated in India (“indirect transfers”). It has been clarified that Indian tax authorities will not reopen any assessment proceedings that were completed before April 1, 2012 and where no notice for reassessment has been issued prior to that date. The CBDT also clarified that any assessment or any other order which stands validated due to the amendments in the Finance Act would be enforced. Given this clarification issued by the CBDT, the Fund does not expect that shareholders or the Fund will become subject to tax or to withholding obligations with respect to completed assessments.
It has been clarified that the share or interest of the foreign entity shall be deemed to derive its value substantially from the assets located in India, if the value of such Indian assets exceeds INR 100 million, and represents at least 50% of the value of all the
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assets owned by the foreign entity. The value of an asset shall be the fair market value as of the specified date, of such an asset without reduction of liabilities. The fair market value will be determined in accordance with Rule 11UB of the Income Tax Rule, 1962 (“IT Rules”). In case all the assets of the foreign entity are not located in India, only such part of the income as is reasonably attributable to the Indian assets shall be subject to capital gains tax in India.
Further, it provides an exemption from indirect transfer provisions to the small shareholders of such foreign entity in the following cases:
With respect to a foreign entity that holds the Indian assets directly, if the transferor of share or interest in such a foreign entity (along with its associated enterprises), at any time in the twelve months preceding the year of transfer neither holds the right of control or management in the foreign entity, nor holds voting power or share capital or interest exceeding 5% of the total voting power or total share capital or total interest in such foreign entity.
With respect to a foreign entity that holds the Indian assets indirectly, if the transferor of share or interest in such foreign entity (along with its associated enterprises), at any time in the twelve months preceding the year of transfer does not hold the right of control or management in relation to the foreign entity, which would entitle them to the right of control or management in the foreign entity which directly holds the Indian assets; or does not hold voting power or share capital or interest exceeding 5% of the total voting power or total share capital or total interest in the foreign entity, which results in holding the same share capital or voting power in the entity which directly holds the Indian assets.
If the gains arising from transfer of shares or interests in a foreign entity are taxable in India in accordance with the aforementioned provisions of indirect transfer, the purchaser of the securities will be required to withhold applicable Indian taxes.
Gains realized when a non-resident acquires shares of a foreign company from another non-resident and the foreign company derives “substantial value” from Indian assets, (meaning that the value of Indian assets (i) exceeds INR 100 million, and (ii) represents at least 50% of the value the company’s assets), such gains are taxable in India and subject to withholding, to the extent that they are reasonably attributable to the Indian assets.
Because the Fund invests in Indian securities through the Subsidiary, the Subsidiary or the Fund may be considered to derive “substantial value” from Indian assets, and accordingly, shareholder redemptions of Fund/Subsidiary shares and sales of Fund shares may have been subject to Indian tax and withholding obligations. However, the IT Act provides for an exemption to non-resident investors investing, directly or indirectly, in capital assets in Category I and Category II foreign portfolio investors (“FPI”) from the applicability of indirect transfer taxation. The Subsidiary is a Category II FPI. Therefore, any redemptions or transfers by the Fund or the shareholders in the Fund should not be subject to Indian indirect transfer tax.
General Anti-Avoidance Rules.
The current legislation provides for the general anti-avoidance rules (“GAAR”) to curb aggressive tax planning with the use of sophisticated structures. GAAR became
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applicable with effect from April 1, 2017. CBDT Circular No. 7 of 2017 has clarified that where a FPI (such as the Subsidiary) is located in a particular jurisdiction based on non-tax commercial reasons and the main purpose of the choice of location/residence of the FPI is not to obtain a treaty benefit, the GAAR provisions will not be resorted to by the tax authorities.
As per the provisions of GAAR, an arrangement entered into by a taxpayer may be declared to be an impermissible avoidance arrangement, if the “main purpose” of the arrangement is to obtain a “tax benefit” and the arrangement:
creates rights, or obligations, which are not ordinarily created between persons dealing at arm's length;
results, directly or indirectly, in the misuse, or abuse, of the provisions of IT Act;
lacks commercial substance; or
is entered into, or carried out, by means, or in a manner, which are not ordinarily employed for bona fide purposes.
Once an arrangement is declared to be an impermissible avoidance arrangement, wide powers have been granted to tax authorities to deny tax treaty benefits, disregard or re-characterize transactions, re-characterize equity into debt and vice versa.
As per the provisions of the IT Rules, GAAR shall not apply in the following circumstances:
any arrangement where the aggregate tax benefit to all the parties of the arrangement in the relevant financial year does not exceed INR 30 Million;
foreign institutional investors (“FIIs”) that choose not to take any benefit under any tax treaty entered with India and have invested in listed or unlisted securities with prior permission of the competent authority in accordance with the applicable regulations;
non-resident investor in an FII who has invested in an FII, directly or indirectly, by way of an offshore derivative instrument or otherwise; or
any income derived from the transfer of shares or interests made prior to April 1, 2017.
GAAR may, irrespective of existing treaty provisions, lead to the imposition of tax liabilities and withholding obligations, and may lead the Fund to modify the structure.
Indian Minimum Alternative Tax.
The IT Act provides that Minimum Alternate Tax is not applicable on a foreign company where the foreign company is a resident of a country with which India has signed a DTAA and the foreign company does not have a permanent establishment in India in accordance with such DTAA.
Recent amendments to the DTAA and GAAR could change the manner in which the Subsidiary is currently taxed in India and could adversely impact the returns to the Fund/Subsidiary and its shareholders. The Fund will continue to monitor developments in India with respect to these matters. Investors are urged to consult their own tax advisers with respect to their own tax situations and the tax consequences of an investment in the Fund.
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U.S. Economic Risk. The U.S. is a significant, and in some cases the most significant, trading partner of, or foreign investor in, certain country or countries in which the Fund invests. As a result, economic conditions of such countries may be particularly affected by changes in the U.S. economy. A decrease in U.S. imports or exports, new trade and financial regulations or tariffs, changes in the U.S. dollar exchange rate or an economic slowdown in the U.S. may have a material adverse effect on the economic conditions of such countries and, as a result, securities to which the Fund has exposure.
Valuation Risk. The price the Fund could receive upon the sale of a security or other asset may differ from the Fund's valuation of the security or other asset and from the value used by the Underlying Index, particularly for securities or other assets that trade in low volume or volatile markets or that are valued using a fair value methodology as a result of trade suspensions or for other reasons. Because non-U.S. exchanges may be open on days when the Fund does not price its shares, the value of the securities or other assets in the Fund’s portfolio may change on days or during time periods when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund’s shares. In addition, for purposes of calculating the Fund's NAV, the value of assets denominated in non-U.S. currencies is converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. This conversion may result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund's NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund's performance and the performance of the Underlying Index. Authorized Participants who purchase or redeem Fund shares on days when the Fund is holding fair-valued securities may receive fewer or more shares, or lower or higher redemption proceeds, than they would have received had the Fund not fair-valued securities or used a different valuation methodology. The Fund’s ability to value investments may be impacted by technological issues or errors by pricing services or other third-party service providers.
A Further Discussion of Other Risks
The Fund may also be subject to certain other risks associated with its investments and investment strategies. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
African Economic Risk. Investing in the economies of African countries involves risks not typically associated with investments in securities of issuers in more developed economies, countries or geographic regions that may negatively affect the value of investments in the Fund. Such heightened risks include, among others, expropriation and/or nationalization of assets, restrictions on and government intervention in international trade, confiscatory taxation, political instability, including authoritarian and/or military involvement in governmental decision making, armed conflict, civil war, and social instability as a result of religious, ethnic and/or socioeconomic unrest or widespread outbreaks of disease.
The securities markets in Africa are underdeveloped and are often considered to be less correlated to global economic cycles than markets located in more developed economies, countries or geographic regions. Securities markets in African countries
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are subject to greater risks associated with market volatility, lower market capitalization, lower trading volume, illiquidity, inflation, greater price fluctuations, uncertainty regarding the existence of trading markets, governmental control and heavy regulation of labor and industry. Moreover, trading on African securities markets may be suspended altogether.
Certain governments in African countries may restrict or control to varying degrees the ability of foreign investors to invest in securities of issuers located or operating in those countries. Moreover, certain countries in Africa may require governmental approval or special licenses prior to investment by foreign investors; may limit the amount of investment by foreign investors in a particular industry and/or issuer; may limit such foreign investment to a certain class of securities of an issuer that may have less advantageous rights than the classes available for purchase by domestic investors of those countries; and/or may impose additional taxes on foreign investors. These factors, among others, make investing in issuers located or operating in countries in Africa significantly riskier than investing in issuers located or operating in more developed countries.
Borrowing Risk. Borrowing may exaggerate changes in the net asset value of Fund shares and in the return on the Fund’s portfolio. Borrowing will cost the Fund interest expense and other fees. The costs of borrowing may reduce the Fund’s return. Borrowing may also cause the Fund to liquidate positions when it may not be advantageous to do so to satisfy its obligations.
Central and South American Economic Risk. Certain Central and South American countries have experienced high interest rates, economic volatility, high levels of inflation, currency devaluations, government defaults and high unemployment rates. Additionally, commodities such as oil and gas, minerals and metals represent a significant percentage of the region’s exports, and the economies of countries in the region are particularly sensitive to fluctuations in commodity prices as a result. The impact of any of the foregoing events in one country could have a significant effect on the entire region.
Close-Out Risk for Qualified Financial Contracts. Regulations adopted by global prudential regulators that are now in effect require counterparties that are part of U.S. or foreign global systemically important banking organizations to include contractual restrictions on close-out and cross-default in agreements relating to qualified financial contracts. Qualified financial contracts include agreements relating to swaps, currency forwards and other derivatives as well as repurchase agreements and securities lending agreements. The restrictions prevent the Fund from closing out a qualified financial contract during a specified time period if the counterparty is subject to resolution proceedings and prohibit the Fund from exercising default rights due to a receivership or similar proceeding of an affiliate of the counterparty. These requirements may increase credit risk and other risks to the Fund.
Communication Services Sector Risk. The communication services sector consists of both companies in the telecommunication services industry as well as those in the media and entertainment industry. Examples of companies in the telecommunication services industry group include providers of fiber-optic, fixed-line, cellular and wireless telecommunications networks. Companies in the media and entertainment industry
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group encompass a variety of services and products including television broadcasting, gaming products, social media, networking platforms, online classifieds, online review websites, and Internet search engines. Companies in the communication services sector may be affected by industry competition, substantial capital requirements, government regulation, and obsolescence of communications products and services due to technological advancement. Fluctuating domestic and international demand, shifting demographics and often unpredictable changes in consumer tastes can drastically affect a communication services company's profitability. In addition, while all companies may be susceptible to network security breaches, certain companies in the communication services sector may be particular targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or consumer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
The communication services sector of a country’s economy is often subject to extensive government regulation. The costs of complying with governmental regulations, delays or failure to receive required regulatory approvals, or the enactment of new regulatory requirements may negatively affect the business of communications companies. Government actions around the world, specifically in the area of pre-marketing clearance of products and prices, can be arbitrary and unpredictable. The communications services industry can also be significantly affected by intense competition for market share, including competition with alternative technologies such as wireless communications, product compatibility and standardization, consumer preferences, rapid product obsolescence, research and development of new products, lack of standardization or compatibility with existing technologies, and a dependency on patent and copyright protections. Companies in the communication services sector may encounter distressed cash flows due to the need to commit substantial capital to meet increasing competition, particularly in developing new products and services using new technology. Technological innovations may make the products and services of certain communications companies obsolete.
Telecommunications providers with exposure to the U.S. are generally required to obtain franchises or licenses in order to provide services in a given location. Licensing and franchise rights in the telecommunications sector are limited, which may provide an advantage to certain participants. Limited availability of such rights, high barriers to market entry and regulatory oversight, among other factors, have led to consolidation of companies within the sector, which could lead to further regulation or other negative effects in the future. Telecommunication providers investing in non-U.S. countries may be subject to similar risks. Additional risks include those related to competitive challenges in the U.S. from non-U.S. competitors engaged in strategic joint ventures with U.S. companies and in non-U.S. markets from both U.S. and non-U.S. competitors.
Companies in the media and entertainment industries can be significantly affected by several factors, including competition, particularly in formulation of products and services using new technologies, cyclicality of revenues and earnings, a potential decrease in the discretionary income of targeted individuals, changing consumer tastes and interests, and the potential increase in government regulation. Companies
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in the media and entertainment industries may become obsolete quickly. Advertising spending can be an important revenue source for media and entertainment companies. During economic downturns advertising spending typically decreases and, as a result, media and entertainment companies tend to generate less revenue.
Consumer Discretionary Sector Risk. The success of consumer product manufacturers and retailers is tied closely to the performance of domestic and international economies, interest rates, exchange rates, competition, consumer confidence, changes in demographics and consumer preferences. Companies in the consumer discretionary sector depend heavily on disposable household income and consumer spending, and may be strongly affected by social trends and marketing campaigns. These companies may be subject to severe competition, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability.
Consumer Staples Sector Risk. Companies in the consumer staples sector may be affected by the regulation of various product components and production methods, marketing campaigns and changes in the global economy, consumer spending and consumer demand. Tobacco companies, in particular, may be adversely affected by new laws, regulations and litigation. Companies in the consumer staples sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors. These companies may be subject to severe competition, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability.
Dividend Risk. There is no guarantee that issuers of the stocks held by the Fund will declare dividends in the future or that, if declared, such dividends will remain at current levels or increase over time.
Eastern European Economic Risk. An investment in issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe may subject the Fund to legal, regulatory, political, currency, security and economic risks specific to Eastern Europe. Economies of certain Eastern European countries rely heavily on the export of commodities, including oil, gas, and certain metals. As a result, such economies may be impacted by international commodity prices and are particularly vulnerable to global demand for these products. Geopolitical events, acts of terrorism, and other instability in certain Eastern European countries may cause uncertainty in their financial markets and adversely affect the performance of the issuers to which the Fund has exposure. The securities markets in some Eastern European countries are substantially smaller and less developed, with less government supervision and regulation of stock exchanges, and may be less liquid and more volatile than securities markets in the U.S. or Western European countries. In addition, investing in securities of issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe may involve:
The risk of delays in settling portfolio transactions and the risk of loss arising out of the system of share registration and custody used in certain Eastern European countries;
Risks in connection with the maintenance of the Fund's portfolio securities and cash with foreign sub-custodians and securities depositories, including the risk that appropriate sub-custody arrangements will not be available to the Fund;
The risk that the Fund's ownership rights in portfolio securities could be lost through fraud or negligence as a result of the fact that ownership in shares of certain
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  Eastern European companies is recorded by the companies themselves and by registrars, rather than a central registration system;
The risk that the Fund may not be able to pursue claims on behalf of its shareholders because of the system of share registration and custody, and because certain Eastern European banking institutions and registrars are not guaranteed by their respective governments; and
Risks in connection with Eastern European countries' dependence on the economic health of Western European countries and the EU as a whole.
Other risks related to investing in securities of issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe include: the potential absence of legal structures governing private and foreign investments and private property; the possibility of the loss of all or a substantial portion of the Fund’s assets invested in issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe as a result of expropriation; and certain national policies which may restrict the Fund’s investment opportunities, including, without limitation, restrictions on investing in issuers or industries deemed sensitive to relevant national interests. In addition, Eastern European securities markets are particularly sensitive to social, political, economic, and currency events in Russia and may suffer heavy losses as a result of their trading and investment links to the Russian economy and currency.
Energy Sector Risk. The success of companies in the energy sector may be cyclical and highly dependent on energy prices. The market value of securities issued by companies in the energy sector may decline for the following reasons, among others: changes in the levels and volatility of global energy prices, energy supply and demand, and capital expenditures on exploration and production of energy sources; exchange rates, interest rates, economic conditions, and tax treatment; and energy conservation efforts, increased competition and technological advances. Companies in this sector may be subject to substantial government regulation and contractual fixed pricing, which may increase the cost of doing business and limit the earnings of these companies. A significant portion of the revenues of these companies may depend on a relatively small number of customers, including governmental entities and utilities. As a result, governmental budget constraints may have a material adverse effect on the stock prices of companies in this sector. Energy companies may also operate in, or engage in, transactions involving countries with less developed regulatory regimes or a history of expropriation, nationalization or other adverse policies. Energy companies also face a significant risk of liability from accidents resulting in injury or loss of life or property, pollution or other environmental problems, equipment malfunctions or mishandling of materials and a risk of loss from terrorism, political strife or natural disasters. Any such event could have serious consequences for the general population of the affected area and could have an adverse impact on the Fund’s portfolio and the performance of the Fund. Energy companies can be significantly affected by the supply of, and demand for, specific products (e.g., oil and natural gas) and services, exploration and production spending, government subsidization, world events and general economic conditions. Energy companies may have relatively high levels of debt and may be more likely than other companies to restructure their businesses if there are downturns in energy markets or in the global economy.
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Illiquid Investments Risk. The Fund may invest up to an aggregate amount of 15% of its net assets in illiquid investments. An illiquid investment is any investment that the Fund reasonably expects cannot be sold or disposed of in current market conditions in seven calendar days or less without significantly changing the market value of the investment. To the extent the Fund holds illiquid investments, the illiquid investments may reduce the returns of the Fund because the Fund may be unable to transact at advantageous times or prices. An investment may be illiquid due to, among other things, the reduced number and capacity of traditional market participants to make a market in securities or instruments or the lack of an active market for such securities or instruments. To the extent that the Fund invests in securities or instruments with substantial market and/or credit risk, the Fund will tend to have increased exposure to the risks associated with illiquid investments. Liquid investments may become illiquid after purchase by the Fund, particularly during periods of market turmoil. There can be no assurance that a security or instrument that is deemed to be liquid when purchased will continue to be liquid for as long as it is held by the Fund, and any security or instrument held by the Fund may be deemed an illiquid investment pursuant to the Fund’s liquidity risk management program. Illiquid investments may be harder to value, especially in changing markets. If the Fund is forced to sell underlying investments at reduced prices or under unfavorable conditions to meet redemption requests or for other cash needs, the Fund may suffer a loss. This may be magnified in a rising interest rate environment or other circumstances where redemptions from the Fund may be greater than normal. Other market participants may be attempting to liquidate holdings at the same time as the Fund, causing increased supply of the Fund’s underlying investments in the market and contributing to illiquid investments risk and downward pricing pressure. During periods of market volatility, liquidity in the market for the Fund’s shares may be impacted by the liquidity in the market for the underlying securities or instruments held by the Fund, which could lead to the Fund’s shares trading at a premium or discount to the Fund’s NAV.
Industrials Sector Risk. The value of securities issued by companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by supply and demand changes related to their specific products or services and industrials sector products in general. The products of manufacturing companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction. Global events, trade disputes and changes in government regulations, economic conditions and exchange rates may adversely affect the performance of companies in the industrials sector. Companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. The industrials sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors. Companies in the industrials sector, particularly aerospace and defense companies, may also be adversely affected by government spending policies because companies in this sector tend to rely to a significant extent on government demand for their products and services.
Information Technology Sector Risk. Information technology companies face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on their profit margins. Like other technology companies, information technology companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or
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personnel. The products of information technology companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments, frequent new product introduction, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. Companies in the information technology sector are heavily dependent on patent and intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the profitability of these companies. Companies in the information technology sector are facing increased government and regulatory scrutiny and may be subject to adverse government or regulatory action. Companies in the application software industry, in particular, may also be negatively affected by the decline or fluctuation of subscription renewal rates for their products and services, which may have an adverse effect on profit margins. Companies in the systems software industry may be adversely affected by, among other things, actual or perceived security vulnerabilities in their products and services, which may result in individual or class action lawsuits, state or federal enforcement actions and other remediation costs.
Materials Sector Risk. Companies in the materials sector may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, exchange rate fluctuations, social and political unrest, import controls, increased competition, depletion of resources, technical advances, labor relations, over-production, litigation and government regulations, among other factors. Companies in the materials sector are also at risk of liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. Production of materials may exceed demand as a result of market imbalances or economic downturns, leading to poor investment returns.
Mid-Capitalization Companies Risk. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies may be more volatile than those of large-capitalization companies and, therefore, the Fund’s share price may be more volatile than those of funds that invest a larger percentage of their assets in stocks issued by large-capitalization companies. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies are also more vulnerable than those of large-capitalization companies to adverse business or economic developments, and the stocks of mid-capitalization companies may be less liquid than those of large-capitalization companies, making it difficult for the Fund to buy and sell shares of mid-capitalization companies. In addition, mid-capitalization companies generally have less diverse product lines than large-capitalization companies and are more susceptible to adverse developments related to their products.
Middle Eastern Economic Risk. Many Middle Eastern countries have little or no democratic tradition and the political and legal systems in such countries may adversely impact the companies in which the Fund invests and, as a result, the value of the Fund. Middle Eastern governments have exercised and continue to exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector. Many economies in the Middle East are highly reliant on income from the sale of oil or trade with countries involved in the sale of oil, and their economies are therefore vulnerable to changes in the market for oil and foreign currency values. As global demand for oil fluctuates, many Middle Eastern economies may be significantly impacted. A sustained decrease in commodity prices could have a significant negative impact on all aspects of the economy in the region. Middle Eastern economies may be subject to acts of terrorism,
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political strife, religious, ethnic or socioeconomic unrest and sudden outbreaks of hostilities with neighboring countries.
Certain Middle Eastern countries have strained relations with other Middle Eastern countries due to territorial disputes, historical animosities, international alliances, religious tensions or defense concerns, which may adversely affect the economies of these countries. Certain Middle Eastern countries experience significant unemployment, as well as widespread underemployment.
Many Middle Eastern countries periodically have experienced political, economic and social unrest as protestors have called for widespread reform. Some of these protests have resulted in a governmental regime change, internal conflict or civil war. If further regime changes were to occur, internal conflict were to intensify, or a civil war were to continue in any of these countries, such instability could adversely affect the economies of Middle Eastern countries in which the Fund invests and could decrease the value of the Fund’s investments.
Threshold/Underinvestment Risk. If certain aggregate and/or fund-level ownership thresholds are reached through transactions undertaken by BFA, its affiliates or the Fund, or as a result of third-party transactions or actions by an issuer or regulator, the ability of BFA and its affiliates on behalf of clients (including the Fund) to purchase or dispose of investments, or exercise rights or undertake business transactions, may be restricted by regulation or otherwise impaired. The capacity of the Fund to make investments in certain securities may be affected by the relevant threshold limits, and such limitations may have adverse effects on the liquidity and performance of the Fund’s portfolio holdings compared to the performance of the Underlying Index. This may increase the risk of the Fund being underinvested to the Underlying Index and increase the risk of tracking error.
For example, in certain circumstances where the Fund invests in securities issued by companies that operate in certain regulated industries or in certain emerging or international markets, or is subject to corporate or regulatory ownership restrictions, or invests in certain futures or other derivative transactions, there may be limits on the aggregate and/or fund-level amount invested or voted by BFA and its affiliates for their proprietary accounts and for client accounts (including the Fund) that may not be exceeded without the grant of a license or other regulatory or corporate consent or, if exceeded, may cause BFA and its affiliates, the Fund or other client accounts to suffer disadvantages or business restrictions.
Portfolio Holdings Information
A description of the Company's policies and procedures with respect to the disclosure of the Fund’s portfolio securities is available in the Fund's Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”). The top holdings of the Fund can be found at www.iShares.com. Fund fact sheets provide information regarding the Fund's top holdings and may be requested by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737).
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Management
Investment Adviser. As investment adviser, BFA has overall responsibility for the general management and administration of the Fund. BFA provides an investment program for the Fund and manages the investment of the Fund’s assets. In managing the Fund, BFA may draw upon the research and expertise of its asset management affiliates with respect to certain portfolio securities. In seeking to achieve the Fund's investment objective, BFA uses teams of portfolio managers, investment strategists and other investment specialists. This team approach brings together many disciplines and leverages BFA’s extensive resources.
Pursuant to the Investment Advisory Agreement between BFA and the Company (entered into on behalf of the Fund), BFA is responsible for substantially all expenses of the Fund, except the management fees, interest expenses, taxes, expenses incurred with respect to the acquisition and disposition of portfolio securities and the execution of portfolio transactions, including brokerage commissions, distribution fees or expenses, litigation expenses and any extraordinary expenses (as determined by a majority of the Directors who are not “interested persons” of the Company).
For its investment advisory services to the Fund, BFA is paid a management fee from the Fund corresponding to the Fund’s allocable portion of an aggregate management fee calculated based on the aggregate average daily net assets of the following iShares funds: iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol Emerging Markets ETF, iShares MSCI All Country Asia ex Japan ETF, iShares MSCI BRIC ETF, iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF and iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Small-Cap ETF. The aggregate management fee is calculated as follows: 0.75% per annum of the aggregate net assets less than or equal to $14.0 billion, plus 0.68% per annum of the aggregate net assets over $14.0 billion, up to and including $28.0 billion, plus 0.61% per annum of the aggregate net assets over $28.0 billion, up to and including $42.0 billion, plus 0.54% per annum of the aggregate net assets over $42.0 billion, up to and including $56.0 billion, plus 0.47% per annum of the aggregate net assets over $56.0 billion, up to and including $70.0 billion, plus 0.41% per annum of the aggregate net assets over $70.0 billion, up to and including $84.0 billion, plus 0.35% per annum of the aggregate net assets in excess of $84.0 billion. Based on the assets of the iShares funds listed above as of August 31, 2019, for its investment advisory services to the Fund, BFA was paid a management fee from the Fund, as a percentage of the Fund’s average daily net assets, at the annual rate of 0.68%. BFA may from time to time voluntarily waive and/or reimburse fees or expenses in order to limit total annual fund operating expenses (excluding Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any). Any such voluntary waiver or reimbursement may be eliminated by BFA at any time.
BFA is located at 400 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. It is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc. (“BlackRock”). As of September 30, 2019, BFA and its affiliates provided investment advisory services for assets in excess of $6.96 trillion. BFA and its affiliates trade and invest for their own accounts in the actual securities and types of securities in which the Fund may also invest, which may affect the price of such securities.
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A discussion regarding the basis for the approval by the Company's Board of Directors (the “Board”) of the Investment Advisory Agreement with BFA is available in the Fund's Annual Report for the period ended August 31.
Portfolio Managers. Rachel Aguirre, Jennifer Hsui, Alan Mason, Greg Savage and Amy Whitelaw are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager is responsible for various functions related to portfolio management, including, but not limited to, investing cash inflows, coordinating with members of his or her portfolio management team to focus on certain asset classes, implementing investment strategy, researching and reviewing investment strategy and overseeing members of his or her portfolio management team that have more limited responsibilities.
Rachel Aguirre has been with BlackRock since 2006, including her years with Barclays Global Investors (“BGI”), which merged with BlackRock in 2009. Ms. Aguirre has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2006 and has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2018.
Jennifer Hsui has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a senior portfolio manager since 2007. Prior to that, Ms. Hsui was a portfolio manager from 2006 to 2007 for Barclays Global Fund Advisors (“BGFA”). Ms. Hsui has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2012.
Alan Mason has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 1991. Mr. Mason has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2016.
Greg Savage has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a senior portfolio manager since 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Savage was a portfolio manager from 2001 to 2006 for BGFA. Mr. Savage has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2008.
Amy Whitelaw has been with BlackRock since 1999, including her years with BGI, which merged with BlackRock in 2009. Ms. Whitelaw has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2009 and has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2018.
The Fund's SAI provides additional information about the Portfolio Managers' compensation, other accounts managed by the Portfolio Managers and the Portfolio Managers' ownership (if any) of shares in the Fund.
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent. State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street”) is the administrator, custodian and transfer agent for the Fund.
Conflicts of Interest. The investment activities of BFA and its affiliates (including BlackRock and its subsidiaries (collectively, the “Affiliates”)), The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (which, through a subsidiary, has a significant economic interest in BlackRock) and its subsidiaries (each with The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., an “Entity” and collectively, the “Entities”), and their respective directors, officers or employees, in the management of, or their interest in, their own accounts and other accounts they manage, may present conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA, its Affiliates and the Entities provide investment management services to other funds and discretionary managed accounts that may
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follow investment programs similar to that of the Fund. BFA, its Affiliates and the Entities are involved worldwide with a broad spectrum of financial services and asset management activities and may engage in the ordinary course of business in activities in which their interests or the interests of their clients may conflict with those of the Fund. BFA or one or more Affiliates or Entities act, or may act, as an investor, investment banker, research provider, investment manager, commodity pool operator, commodity trading advisor, financier, underwriter, adviser, market maker, trader, prime broker, lender, index provider, agent and/or principal, and have other direct and indirect interests in securities, currencies, commodities, derivatives and other instruments in which the Fund may directly or indirectly invest. Thus, it is likely that the Fund will have multiple business relationships with and will invest in, engage in transactions with, make voting decisions with respect to, or obtain services from, entities for which an Affiliate or an Entity performs or seeks to perform investment banking or other services. Specifically, the Fund may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies with which an Affiliate or an Entity has developed or is trying to develop investment banking relationships or in which an Affiliate or an Entity has significant debt or equity investments or other interests. The Fund may also invest in issuances (such as structured notes) by entities for which an Affiliate or an Entity provides and is compensated for cash management services relating to the proceeds from the sale of such issuances. The Fund also may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies for which an Affiliate or an Entity provides or may in the future provide research coverage. An Affiliate or an Entity may have business relationships with, and purchase or distribute or sell services or products from or to, distributors, consultants or others who recommend the Fund or who engage in transactions with or for the Fund, and may receive compensation for such services. The Fund may also make brokerage and other payments to Entities in connection with the Fund's portfolio investment transactions. BFA or one or more Affiliates or Entities may engage in proprietary trading and advise accounts and funds that have investment objectives similar to those of the Fund and/or that engage in and compete for transactions in the same types of securities, currencies and other instruments as the Fund. This may include transactions in securities issued by other open-end and closed-end investment companies (which may include investment companies that are affiliated with the Fund and BFA, to the extent permitted under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”)). The trading activities of BFA and these Affiliates or Entities are carried out without reference to positions held directly or indirectly by the Fund and may result in BFA or an Affiliate or an Entity having positions in certain securities that are senior or junior to, or have interests different from or adverse to, the securities that are owned by the Fund.
Neither BlackRock nor any Affiliate is under any obligation to share any investment opportunity, idea or strategy with the Fund. As a result, an Affiliate may compete with the Fund for appropriate investment opportunities. The results of the Fund's investment activities, therefore, may differ from those of an Affiliate and of other accounts managed by an Affiliate, and it is possible that the Fund could sustain losses during periods in which one or more Affiliates and other accounts achieve profits on their trading for proprietary or other accounts. The opposite result is also possible.
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In addition, the Fund may, from time to time, enter into transactions in which BFA or an Affiliate or an Entity or its or their directors, officers or employees or other clients have an adverse interest. Furthermore, transactions undertaken by clients advised or managed by BFA, its Affiliates or Entities may adversely impact the Fund. Transactions by one or more clients or by BFA, its Affiliates or Entities or their directors, officers or employees, may have the effect of diluting or otherwise disadvantaging the values, prices or investment strategies of the Fund.
The Fund's activities may be limited because of regulatory restrictions applicable to BFA, one or more Affiliates or Entities and/or their internal policies designed to comply with such restrictions.
Under a securities lending program approved by the Board, the Fund has retained BTC, an Affiliate of BFA, to serve as the securities lending agent for the Fund to the extent that the Fund participates in the securities lending program. For these services, the securities lending agent will receive a fee from the Fund, including a fee based on the returns earned on the Fund’s investment of the cash received as collateral for the loaned securities. In addition, one or more Affiliates or Entities may be among the entities to which the Fund may lend its portfolio securities under the securities lending program.
The activities of BFA, its Affiliates and Entities and their respective directors, officers or employees, may give rise to other conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA has adopted policies and procedures designed to address these potential conflicts of interest. See the SAI for further information.
Shareholder Information
Additional shareholder information, including how to buy and sell shares of the Fund, is available free of charge by calling toll-free: 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting our website at www.iShares.com.
Buying and Selling Shares. Shares of the Fund may be acquired or redeemed directly from the Fund only in Creation Units or multiples thereof, as discussed in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. Once created, shares of the Fund generally trade in the secondary market in amounts less than a Creation Unit.
Shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange for trading during the trading day. Shares can be bought and sold throughout the trading day like shares of other publicly-traded companies. The Company does not impose any minimum investment for shares of the Fund purchased on an exchange or otherwise in the secondary market. The Fund's shares trade under the ticker symbol “EEM.”
Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange or other secondary market involves two types of costs that may apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission and other charges. The commission is frequently a fixed amount and may be a significant proportional cost for investors seeking to buy or sell small amounts of shares. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread,” that is, any difference between the
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bid price and the ask price. The spread varies over time for shares of the Fund based on the Fund’s trading volume and market liquidity, and is generally lower if the Fund has high trading volume and market liquidity, and higher if the Fund has little trading volume and market liquidity (which is often the case for funds that are newly launched or small in size). The Fund's spread may also be impacted by the liquidity or illiquidity of the underlying securities held by the Fund, particularly for newly launched or smaller funds or in instances of significant volatility of the underlying securities.
The Board has adopted a policy of not monitoring for frequent purchases and redemptions of Fund shares (“frequent trading”) that appear to attempt to take advantage of a potential arbitrage opportunity presented by a lag between a change in the value of the Fund’s portfolio securities after the close of the primary markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities and the reflection of that change in the Fund’s NAV (“market timing”), because the Fund sells and redeems its shares directly through transactions that are in-kind and/or for cash, subject to the conditions described below under Creations and Redemptions. The Board has not adopted a policy of monitoring for other frequent trading activity because shares of the Fund are listed for trading on a national securities exchange.
The national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed is open for trading Monday through Friday and is closed on weekends and the following holidays (or the days on which they are observed): New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The Fund’s primary listing exchange is NYSE Arca.
Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act restricts investments by investment companies, including foreign investment companies, in the securities of other investment companies. Registered investment companies are permitted to invest in the Fund beyond the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1), subject to certain terms and conditions set forth in SEC rules or in an SEC exemptive order issued to the Company. In order for a registered investment company to invest in shares of the Fund beyond the limitations of Section 12(d)(1) pursuant to the exemptive relief obtained by the Company, the registered investment company must enter into an agreement with the Company. Foreign investment companies are permitted to invest in the Fund only up to the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1), subject to any applicable SEC no-action relief.
Book Entry. Shares of the Fund are held in book-entry form, which means that no stock certificates are issued. The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) or its nominee is the record owner of, and holds legal title to, all outstanding shares of the Fund.
Investors owning shares of the Fund are beneficial owners as shown on the records of DTC or its participants. DTC serves as the securities depository for shares of the Fund. DTC participants include securities brokers and dealers, banks, trust companies, clearing corporations and other institutions that directly or indirectly maintain a custodial relationship with DTC. As a beneficial owner of shares, you are not entitled to receive physical delivery of stock certificates or to have shares registered in your name, and you are not considered a registered owner of shares. Therefore, to exercise any right as an owner of shares, you must rely upon the procedures of DTC and its
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participants. These procedures are the same as those that apply to any other securities that you hold in book-entry or “street name” form.
Share Prices. The trading prices of the Fund’s shares in the secondary market generally differ from the Fund’s daily NAV and are affected by market forces such as the supply of and demand for ETF shares and shares of underlying securities held by the Fund, economic conditions and other factors. Information regarding the intraday value of shares of the Fund, also known as the “indicative optimized portfolio value” (“IOPV”), is disseminated every 15 seconds throughout each trading day by the national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed or by market data vendors or other information providers. The IOPV is based on the current market value of the securities or other assets and/or cash required to be deposited in exchange for a Creation Unit. The IOPV does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities or other assets held by the Fund at a particular point in time or the best possible valuation of the current portfolio. Therefore, the IOPV should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the Fund's NAV, which is computed only once a day. The IOPV is generally determined by using both current market quotations and price quotations obtained from broker-dealers and other market intermediaries that may trade in the portfolio securities or other assets held by the Fund. The quotations of certain Fund holdings may not be updated during U.S. trading hours if such holdings do not trade in the U.S. The Fund is not involved in, or responsible for, the calculation or dissemination of the IOPV and makes no representation or warranty as to its accuracy.
Determination of Net Asset Value. The NAV of the Fund normally is determined once daily Monday through Friday, generally as of the regularly scheduled close of business of the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) (normally 4:00 p.m., Eastern time) on each day that the NYSE is open for trading, based on prices at the time of closing, provided that (i) any Fund assets or liabilities denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar are translated into U.S. dollars at the prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers (as detailed below) and (ii) U.S. fixed-income assets may be valued as of the announced closing time for trading in fixed-income instruments in a particular market or exchange. The NAV of the Fund is calculated by dividing the value of the net assets of the Fund (i.e., the value of its total assets less total liabilities) by the total number of outstanding shares of the Fund, generally rounded to the nearest cent.
The value of the securities and other assets and liabilities held by the Fund are determined pursuant to valuation policies and procedures approved by the Board.
Equity investments and other instruments for which market quotations are readily available, as well as investments in an underlying fund, if any, are valued at market value, which is generally determined using the last reported official closing price or, if a reported closing price is not available, the last traded price on the exchange or market on which the security is primarily traded at the time of valuation.
The Fund invests in non-U.S. securities. Foreign currency exchange rates with respect to the portfolio securities denominated in non-U.S. currencies are generally determined as of 4:00 p.m., London time. Non-U.S. securities held by the Fund may trade on weekends or other days when the Fund does not price its shares. As a result,
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the Fund’s NAV may change on days when Authorized Participants will not be able to purchase or redeem Fund shares.
Generally, trading in non-U.S. securities, U.S. government securities, money market instruments and certain fixed-income securities is substantially completed each day at various times prior to the close of business on the NYSE. The values of such securities used in computing the NAV of the Fund are determined as of such times.
When market quotations are not readily available or are believed by BFA to be unreliable, the Fund’s investments are valued at fair value. Fair value determinations are made by BFA in accordance with policies and procedures approved by the Board. BFA may conclude that a market quotation is not readily available or is unreliable if a security or other asset or liability does not have a price source due to its lack of trading or other reasons, if a market quotation differs significantly from recent price quotations or otherwise no longer appears to reflect fair value, where the security or other asset or liability is thinly traded, when there is a significant event subsequent to the most recent market quotation, or if the trading market on which a security is listed is suspended or closed and no appropriate alternative trading market is available. A “significant event” is deemed to occur if BFA determines, in its reasonable business judgment prior to or at the time of pricing the Fund’s assets or liabilities, that the event is likely to cause a material change to the closing market price of one or more assets or liabilities held by the Fund. Non-U.S. securities whose values are affected by volatility that occurs in the local markets or in related or highly correlated assets (e.g., American Depositary Receipts, Global Depositary Receipts or substantially identical ETFs) on a trading day after the close of non-U.S. securities markets may be fair valued.
Fair value represents a good faith approximation of the value of an asset or liability. The fair value of an asset or liability held by the Fund is the amount the Fund might reasonably expect to receive from the current sale of that asset or the cost to extinguish that liability in an arm’s-length transaction. Valuing the Fund’s investments using fair value pricing will result in prices that may differ from current market valuations and that may not be the prices at which those investments could have been sold during the period in which the particular fair values were used. Use of fair value prices and certain current market valuations could result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund’s NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund’s performance and the performance of the Underlying Index.
The value of assets or liabilities denominated in non-U.S. currencies will be converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. Use of a rate different from the rate used by the Index Provider may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to track the Underlying Index.
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Dividends and Distributions
General Policies. Dividends from net investment income, if any, generally are declared and paid at least once a year by the Fund. Distributions of net realized securities gains, if any, generally are declared and paid once a year, but the Company may make distributions on a more frequent basis for the Fund. The Company reserves the right to declare special distributions if, in its reasonable discretion, such action is necessary or advisable to preserve its status as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) or to avoid imposition of income or excise taxes on undistributed income or realized gains.
Dividends and other distributions on shares of the Fund are distributed on a pro rata basis to beneficial owners of such shares. Dividend payments are made through DTC participants and indirect participants to beneficial owners then of record with proceeds received from the Fund.
Dividend Reinvestment Service. No dividend reinvestment service is provided by the Company. Broker-dealers may make available the DTC book-entry Dividend Reinvestment Service for use by beneficial owners of the Fund for reinvestment of their dividend distributions. Beneficial owners should contact their broker to determine the availability and costs of the service and the details of participation therein. Brokers may require beneficial owners to adhere to specific procedures and timetables. If this service is available and used, dividend distributions of both income and realized gains will be automatically reinvested in additional whole shares of the Fund purchased in the secondary market.
Taxes. As with any investment, you should consider how your investment in shares of the Fund will be taxed. The tax information in this Prospectus is provided as general information, based on current law. You should consult your own tax professional about the tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund.
Unless your investment in Fund shares is made through a tax-exempt entity or tax-deferred retirement account, such as an IRA, in which case your distributions generally will be taxable when withdrawn, you need to be aware of the possible tax consequences when the Fund makes distributions or you sell Fund shares.
Taxes on Distributions. Distributions from the Fund’s net investment income (other than qualified dividend income), including distributions of income from securities lending and distributions out of the Fund’s net short-term capital gains, if any, are taxable to you as ordinary income. Distributions by the Fund of net long-term capital gains, if any, in excess of net short-term capital losses (capital gain dividends) are taxable to you as long-term capital gains, regardless of how long you have held the Fund’s shares. Distributions by the Fund that qualify as qualified dividend income are taxable to you at long-term capital gain rates. Long-term capital gains and qualified dividend income are generally eligible for taxation at a maximum rate of 15% or 20% for non-corporate shareholders, depending on whether their income exceeds certain threshold amounts. In addition, a 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax is imposed on “net investment income,” including, but not limited to, interest, dividends, and net gain, of U.S. individuals with income exceeding $200,000 (or $250,000 if married and filing jointly) and of estates and trusts.
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Dividends will be qualified dividend income to you if they are attributable to qualified dividend income received by the Fund. Generally, qualified dividend income includes dividend income from taxable U.S. corporations and qualified non-U.S. corporations, provided that the Fund satisfies certain holding period requirements in respect of the stock of such corporations and has not hedged its position in the stock in certain ways. Substitute dividends received by the Fund with respect to dividends paid on securities lent out will not be qualified dividend income. For this purpose, a qualified non-U.S. corporation means any non-U.S. corporation that is eligible for benefits under a comprehensive income tax treaty with the U.S., which includes an exchange of information program, or if the stock with respect to which the dividend was paid is readily tradable on an established U.S. securities market. The term excludes a corporation that is a passive foreign investment company.
Dividends received by the Fund from a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) or another RIC generally are qualified dividend income only to the extent such dividend distributions are made out of qualified dividend income received by such REIT or RIC. Additionally, it is expected that dividends received by the Fund from a REIT and distributed to a shareholder generally will be taxable to the shareholder as ordinary income. However, for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2026, the Fund may report dividends eligible for a 20% “qualified business income” deduction for non-corporate U.S. shareholders to the extent the Fund’s income is derived from ordinary REIT dividends, reduced by allocable Fund expenses.
For a dividend to be treated as qualified dividend income, the dividend must be received with respect to a share of stock held without being hedged by the Fund, and with respect to a share of the Fund held without being hedged by you, for 61 days during the 121-day period beginning at the date which is 60 days before the date on which such share becomes ex-dividend with respect to such dividend or, in the case of certain preferred stock, 91 days during the 181-day period beginning 90 days before such date.
In general, your distributions are subject to U.S. federal income tax for the year when they are paid. Certain distributions paid in January, however, may be treated as paid on December 31 of the prior year.
If the Fund’s distributions exceed current and accumulated earnings and profits, all or a portion of the distributions made in the taxable year may be recharacterized as a return of capital to shareholders. Distributions in excess of the Fund’s minimum distribution requirements, but not in excess of the Fund’s earnings and profits, will be taxable to shareholders and will not constitute nontaxable returns of capital. A return of capital distribution generally will not be taxable but will reduce the shareholder’s cost basis and result in a higher capital gain or lower capital loss when those shares on which the distribution was received are sold. Once a shareholder's cost basis is reduced to zero, further distributions will be treated as capital gain, if the shareholder holds shares of the Fund as capital assets.
Dividends, interest and capital gains earned by the Fund with respect to securities issued by non-U.S. issuers may give rise to withholding, capital gains and other taxes imposed by non-U.S. countries. Tax conventions between certain countries and the U.S. may reduce or eliminate such taxes. If more than 50% of the total assets of the
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Fund at the close of a year consists of non-U.S. stocks or securities (generally, for this purpose, depositary receipts, no matter where traded, of non-U.S. companies are treated as “non-U.S.”), generally the Fund may “pass through” to you certain non-U.S. income taxes (including withholding taxes) paid by the Fund. This means that you would be considered to have received as an additional dividend your share of such non-U.S. taxes, but you may be entitled to either a corresponding tax deduction in calculating your taxable income, or, subject to certain limitations, a credit in calculating your U.S. federal income tax.
For purposes of foreign tax credits for U.S. shareholders of the Fund, foreign capital gains taxes may not produce associated foreign source income, limiting the availability of such credits for U.S. persons.
If you are neither a resident nor a citizen of the U.S. or if you are a non-U.S. entity (other than a pass-through entity to the extent owned by U.S. persons), the Fund’s ordinary income dividends (which include distributions of net short-term capital gains) will generally be subject to a 30% U.S. withholding tax, unless a lower treaty rate applies, provided that withholding tax will generally not apply to any gain or income realized by a non-U.S. shareholder in respect of any distributions of long-term capital gains or upon the sale or other disposition of shares of the Fund.
Separately, a 30% withholding tax is currently imposed on U.S.-source dividends, interest and other income items paid to (i) foreign financial institutions, including non-U.S. investment funds, unless they agree to collect and disclose to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) information regarding their direct and indirect U.S. account holders and (ii) certain other foreign entities, unless they certify certain information regarding their direct and indirect U.S. owners. To avoid withholding, foreign financial institutions will need to (i) enter into agreements with the IRS that state that they will provide the IRS information, including the names, addresses and taxpayer identification numbers of direct and indirect U.S. account holders, comply with due diligence procedures with respect to the identification of U.S. accounts, report to the IRS certain information with respect to U.S. accounts maintained, agree to withhold tax on certain payments made to non-compliant foreign financial institutions or to account holders who fail to provide the required information, and determine certain other information concerning their account holders, or (ii) in the event that an applicable intergovernmental agreement and implementing legislation are adopted, provide local revenue authorities with similar account holder information. Other foreign entities may need to report the name, address, and taxpayer identification number of each substantial U.S. owner or provide certifications of no substantial U.S. ownership unless certain exceptions apply.
If your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending arrangement, you may lose the ability to treat Fund dividends paid while the shares are held by the borrower as qualified dividend income. In addition, you may lose the ability to use foreign tax credits passed through by the Fund if your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending agreement.
If you are a resident or a citizen of the U.S., by law, backup withholding at a 24% rate will apply to your distributions and proceeds if you have not provided a taxpayer identification number or social security number and made other required certifications.
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Taxes When Shares are Sold. Currently, any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares is generally treated as a long-term gain or loss if the shares have been held for more than one year. Any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares held for one year or less is generally treated as short-term gain or loss, except that any capital loss on the sale of shares held for six months or less is treated as long-term capital loss to the extent that capital gain dividends were paid with respect to such shares. Any such capital gains, including from sales of Fund shares or from capital gain dividends, are included in “net investment income” for purposes of the 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax mentioned above.
The foregoing discussion summarizes some of the consequences under current U.S. federal tax law of an investment in the Fund. It is not a substitute for personal tax advice. You may also be subject to state and local taxation on Fund distributions and sales of shares. Consult your personal tax advisor about the potential tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund under all applicable tax laws.
Chinese Tax Disclosure. The Fund’s investments in securities issued by PRC companies may cause the Fund to become subject to withholding and other taxes imposed by the PRC. If the Fund were considered to be a tax resident of the PRC, it would be subject to PRC corporate income tax at the rate of 25% on its worldwide taxable income. If the Fund were considered to be a non-resident enterprise with a “permanent establishment” in the PRC, it would be subject to PRC corporate income tax of 25% on the profits attributable to the permanent establishment. BFA intends to operate the Fund in a manner that will prevent it from being treated as a tax resident of the PRC and from having a permanent establishment in the PRC. It is possible, however, that the PRC could disagree with that conclusion or that changes in PRC tax law could affect the PRC corporate income tax status of the Fund. The PRC generally imposes withholding income tax at a rate of 10% on dividends, premiums, interest and capital gains originating in the PRC and paid to a company that is not a resident of the PRC for tax purposes and that has no permanent establishment in China. The withholding is in general made by the relevant PRC tax resident company making such payments. In the event the relevant PRC tax resident company fails to withhold the relevant PRC withholding income tax or otherwise fails to pay the relevant withholding income tax to the PRC tax authorities, the PRC tax authorities may, at their sole discretion, impose tax obligations on the Fund. Foreign investors are temporarily exempt from withholding income tax on capital gains derived from the trading of certain shares. The exemptions are temporary and there is no indication how long the exemptions will continue. While the application and enforcement of this law to the Fund remains subject to clarification, to the extent that such taxes are imposed on any capital gains of the Fund, the Fund's NAV or returns may be adversely impacted. Stamp duty under PRC laws generally applies to the execution and receipt of taxable documents, which include contracts for the sale of shares traded on PRC stock exchanges. In the case of such contracts, the stamp duty is currently imposed on the seller but not on the purchaser, at the rate of 0.1%.
The above information is only a general summary of the potential PRC tax consequences that may be imposed on the Fund and its investors either directly or indirectly and should not be taken as a definitive, authoritative or comprehensive statement of the relevant matter. Investors should seek their own tax advice on their
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tax position with regard to their investment in the Fund.
The PRC government has implemented a number of tax reform policies in recent years. The current tax laws and regulations may be revised or amended in the future. Any revision or amendment in tax laws and regulations may affect the after-taxation profit of PRC companies and foreign investors in such companies, such as the Fund.
Mauritius Tax Disclosure. The Fund conducts its investment activities in India  through the Subsidiary. In order to be eligible to claim benefits under the DTAA, the Subsidiary must satisfy certain conditions, including the establishment and maintenance of a valid tax residence in Mauritius. The Subsidiary has obtained a certificate from the Mauritius authorities providing that it is a resident of Mauritius under the DTAA. Further, the Subsidiary will need to ensure that its POEM is in Mauritius so as to be tax resident in Mauritius. Generally, the Subsidiary shall be deemed to have its POEM in Mauritius if:
(a) The strategic decisions relating to its core income generating activities are taken in, or from, Mauritius; and
(b) Any one of the following conditions is met:
(i) The majority of the board of directors meetings are held in Mauritius; or
(ii) The executive management of the Subsidiary is regularly exercised in Mauritius;
If the Subsidiary does not meet the conditions of the POEM, it will be treated as non-resident for tax purposes. The Fund expects the Subsidiary to maintain its Mauritius tax residency. The Subsidiary is subject to tax in Mauritius on its net income at the rate of 15%. However, the Subsidiary is entitled to a system of foreign tax credits or partial exemption which reduces the Mauritius income tax rate. The Subsidiary is entitled to tax credits against the income tax payable in Mauritius (i.e., up to a maximum of 15%) for foreign tax suffered on foreign source income where this can be evidenced. Alternatively, the Subsidiary is entitled (i) up to June 30, 2021, to a deemed foreign tax credit equivalent to 80% of the Mauritius tax payable, resulting in a maximum effective tax rate of 3% or (ii) to a partial exemption of 80% in respect of all its income resulting in the company being subject to tax only on the remaining 20% of the income at the rate of 15%. Further, the Subsidiary is not subject to capital gains tax in Mauritius nor is it subject to tax in Mauritius on any gains from the sale of securities. Any dividends paid by the Subsidiary to the Fund will also be exempt from tax in Mauritius.
Indian Tax Disclosure. In the event the benefits under the DTAA are denied, the following rates of tax under the Indian IT Act will be applicable (these rates are inclusive of highest applicable surcharges):
Dividend: Dividend income earned by the Subsidiary will not be subject to Indian tax. However, the Indian company declaring and paying such dividend would be subject to Dividend Distribution Tax at an effective rate of 20.36% on the amount of the dividend paid out.
Interest: Interest paid to the Subsidiary in respect of debt obligations of Indian issuers will be subject to Indian income tax. The tax rate in the case of a rupee-denominated debt obligation is 43.68%. However if the Subsidiary is a SEBI registered FPI, interest income earned from June 1, 2013 to June 30, 2020 on rupee
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  denominated bonds of Indian companies and Indian government securities will be subject to tax at the rate of 5.46%, provided that the rate of interest does not exceed the prescribed rates. In the case of a foreign-currency denominated debt obligation, the tax rate is 21.84%. For approved foreign-currency loans advanced from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2020, the tax rate on interest is 5.46% and for approved foreign currency long-term bonds issued from October 1, 2014 to June 30, 2020, the tax rate on interest is 5.46%. The IT Act provides the withholding tax rate on rupee-denominated bonds issued before July 1, 2020 to be 5.46%. The Subsidiary may claim the benefit of the provisions of the DTAA, to the extent they are more beneficial. DTAA provides for a withholding rate of 7.5% on the interest payments made on or after April 1, 2017.
Securities Transaction Tax: All transactions entered on a recognized stock exchange in India are subject to a Securities Transaction Tax (“STT”). STT has been introduced under Section 98 of the Finance (No.2) Act, 2004 on transactions relating to sale, purchases and redemption of shares made by purchasers or sellers of Indian securities and equity oriented mutual fund units. The current STT as levied on the transaction value as follows:
0.1% payable by the buyer and 0.1% by the seller on the value of transactions of delivery based transfer of an equity share in an Indian company entered in a recognized stock exchange;
0.001% on the value of transactions of delivery based sale of a unit of an equity oriented mutual fund entered in a recognized stock exchange, payable by the seller;
0.025% on the value of transactions of non-delivery based sale of an equity share in an Indian company or a unit of an equity oriented mutual fund, entered in a recognized stock exchange payable by the seller;
0.05% on the value of transactions of derivatives being options, entered in a recognized stock exchange. STT is to be paid by the seller;
0.01% on the value of transactions of sale of derivatives being futures, entered in a recognized stock exchange. STT is to be paid by the seller;
0.001% on the value of transactions of sale of units of an equity-oriented fund to the Mutual Fund, payable by the seller in accordance with the Finance Act, 2013;
0.125% on the value of transactions of sale of derivatives being options, where the option is exercised, entered in a recognized stock exchange. STT is to be paid by buyer;
0.2% on the value of transactions of the sale of unlisted shares by existing shareholders in an initial public offer.
Capital Gains: Assuming total income will be more than INR 100 million, the taxation of capital gains would be as follows: (i) long-term capital gains (being gains on sale of shares held for a period of more than 12 months) listed on a recognized stock exchange would be taxable in India at a rate of 10.92%, provided STT has been paid, both on acquisition and sale (subject to certain transactions, to which the provisions of applicability and payment of STT upon acquisition shall not be applicable) of such shares. Capital gains tax would be calculated on gains exceeding INR 0.1 million
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  (without any indexation and foreign exchange fluctuation benefits). It may also be noted that any capital gains arising up to January 31, 2018 have been grandfathered; (ii) short-term capital gains (being gains on sale of shares held for a period of 12 months or less) from the sale of Indian shares listed on a recognized stock exchange will be taxed at the rate of 16.38% provided STT has been paid on the same; (iii) long-term capital gains (being gains on sale of shares held for a period of more than 24 months) arising to the Subsidiary from the sale of unlisted securities will be taxed at the rate of 10.92% (without indexation) and short-term capital gains (being gains on sale of shares held for a period of 24 months or less) will be taxed at the rate of 43.68% (however, if the Subsidiary is a SEBI registered sub-account, the rates will be at 10.92% and 32.76%, respectively); (iv) capital gains realized on sale of listed equity shares not executed on a recognized stock exchange in India would be taxed at the rate of 10.92% for long-term gains (being gains on sale of shares held for a period of more than 12 months) and at 43.68% in the case of short-term gains (being gains on sale of shares held for a period of 12 months or less); and (v) capital gains arising from the transfer of depositary receipts outside India between non-resident investors will not be subject to tax in India. These rates will be subject to the beneficial provisions of the DTAA.
Indirect Transfers. The current legislation imposes Indian tax and withholding obligations with respect to the transfer of shares and interest in an overseas company that derives its value substantially from assets situated in India (indirect transfers). It has been clarified that Indian tax authorities will not reopen any assessment proceedings that were completed before April 1, 2012 and where no notice for reassessment has been issued prior to that date. The CBDT also clarified that any assessment or any other order which stands validated due to the amendments in the Finance Act would be enforced. Given this clarification issued by the CBDT, the Fund does not expect that shareholders or the Fund will become subject to tax or to withholding obligations with respect to completed assessments.
It has been clarified that the share or interest of the foreign entity shall be deemed to derive its value substantially from the assets located in India, if the value of such Indian assets exceeds INR 100 million, and represents at least 50% of the value of all the assets owned by the foreign entity. The value of an asset shall be the fair market value as of the specified date, of such an asset without reduction of liabilities. The fair market value will be determined in accordance with the final Rule 11UB of the IT Rules. It also provides that where all the assets of the foreign entity are not located in India, only such part of the income as is reasonably attributable to the Indian assets shall be subject to capital gains tax in India.
Further, it provides an exemption from indirect transfer provisions to the small shareholders of such foreign entity in the following cases:
With respect to a foreign entity that holds the Indian assets directly, if the transferor of share or interest in such a foreign entity (along with its associated enterprises), at any time in the twelve months preceding the year of transfer neither holds the right of control or management in the foreign entity, nor holds voting power or share capital or interest exceeding 5% of the total voting power or total share capital or total interest in such foreign entity.
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With respect to a foreign entity that holds the Indian assets indirectly, if the transferor of share or interest in such foreign entity (along with its associated enterprises), at any time in the twelve months preceding the year of transfer does not hold the right of control or management in relation to the foreign entity, which would entitle them to the right of control or management in the foreign entity which directly holds the Indian assets; or does not hold voting power or share capital or interest exceeding 5% of the total voting power or total share capital or total interest in the foreign entity, which results in holding the same share capital or voting power in the entity which directly holds the Indian assets.
If the gains arising from transfer of shares or interests in a foreign entity are taxable in India in accordance with the aforementioned provisions of indirect transfer, the purchaser of the securities will be required to withhold applicable Indian taxes. However, the non-resident investor investing, directly or indirectly, in capital assets in Category I and Category II FPI are exempt from the applicability of indirect transfer taxation. The Subsidiary is a Category II FPI. Therefore, any redemptions or transfers by the Fund or the shareholders in the Fund should not be subject to Indian indirect transfer tax.
General Anti-Avoidance Rules. The GAAR introduced in the IT Act provides the Indian tax authorities a mechanism to deny any tax benefits in a transaction or any other arrangement that is believed to not have any commercial substance or purpose other than to obtain tax benefit(s) under a treaty. The provisions of GAAR will be applicable to arrangements (including a step in or a part thereof) entered into by a taxpayer, which may be declared as an “impermissible avoidance arrangement”.
GAAR became applicable with effect from April 1, 2017. CBDT has clarified that where a FPI (such as the Subsidiary) is located in a particular jurisdiction based on non-tax commercial reasons and the main purpose of the choice of location/residence of the FPI is not to obtain a treaty benefit, the GAAR provisions will not be resorted to by the tax authorities.
As per the provisions of the IT Rules, GAAR shall not apply in the following circumstances:
any arrangement where the aggregate tax benefit to all the parties of the arrangement in the relevant financial year does not exceed INR 30 Million;
FIIs that choose not to take any benefit under any tax treaty entered with India and have invested in listed or unlisted securities with prior permission of the competent authority in accordance with the applicable regulations;
non-resident investor in an FII who has invested in an FII, directly or indirectly, by way of an offshore derivative instrument or otherwise; or
any income derived from the transfer of shares or interests made prior to April 1, 2017.
If the Fund's use of the Subsidiary was considered to be such an impermissible avoidance arrangement, the Fund may become subject directly to taxation in India. The IT Act, provides that if the main purpose of any part or step of the arrangement is to obtain tax benefit, the entire arrangement shall be presumed to have been entered into with the purpose of obtaining a tax benefit and the burden of proof will be on the
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taxpayer to establish that obtaining a tax benefit was not the main purpose of the entire arrangement. GAAR may, irrespective of existing treaty provisions, lead to the imposition of tax liabilities and withholding obligations, which may lead the Fund to modify the structure.
Creations and Redemptions. Prior to trading in the secondary market, shares of the Fund are “created” at NAV by market makers, large investors and institutions only in block-size Creation Units of 450,000 shares or multiples thereof. Each “creator” or authorized participant (an “Authorized Participant”) has entered into an agreement with the Fund's distributor, BlackRock Investments, LLC (the “Distributor”), an affiliate of BFA.
A creation transaction, which is subject to acceptance by the Distributor and the Fund, generally takes place when an Authorized Participant deposits into the Fund a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) and a specified amount of cash approximating the holdings of the Fund in exchange for a specified number of Creation Units. To the extent practicable, the composition of such portfolio generally corresponds pro rata to the holdings of the Fund. However, creation and redemption baskets may differ. The Fund generally offers Creation Units partially for cash, but may, in certain circumstances, offer Creation Units solely for cash or solely in-kind.
Similarly, shares can be redeemed only in Creation Units, generally for a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) held by the Fund and a specified amount of cash. Except when aggregated in Creation Units, shares are not redeemable by the Fund.
The prices at which creations and redemptions occur are based on the next calculation of NAV after a creation or redemption order is received in an acceptable form under the authorized participant agreement.
Only an Authorized Participant may create or redeem Creation Units with the Fund. Authorized Participants may create or redeem Creation Units for their own accounts or for customers, including, without limitation, affiliates of the Fund.
In the event of a system failure or other interruption, including disruptions at market makers or Authorized Participants, orders to purchase or redeem Creation Units either may not be executed according to the Fund's instructions or may not be executed at all, or the Fund may not be able to place or change orders.
To the extent the Fund engages in in-kind transactions, the Fund intends to comply with the U.S. federal securities laws in accepting securities for deposit and satisfying redemptions with redemption securities by, among other means, assuring that any securities accepted for deposit and any securities used to satisfy redemption requests will be sold in transactions that would be exempt from registration under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”). Further, an Authorized Participant that is not a “qualified institutional buyer,” as such term is defined in Rule 144A under the 1933 Act, will not be able to receive restricted securities eligible for resale under Rule 144A.
Creations and redemptions must be made through a firm that is either a member of the Continuous Net Settlement System of the National Securities Clearing Corporation or a DTC participant that has executed an agreement with the Distributor with respect to creations and redemptions of Creation Unit aggregations. Information about the procedures regarding creation and redemption of Creation Units (including the cut-off times for receipt of creation and redemption orders) is included in the Fund's SAI.
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Because new shares may be created and issued on an ongoing basis, at any point during the life of the Fund a “distribution,” as such term is used in the 1933 Act, may be occurring. Broker-dealers and other persons are cautioned that some activities on their part may, depending on the circumstances, result in their being deemed participants in a distribution in a manner that could render them statutory underwriters subject to the prospectus delivery and liability provisions of the 1933 Act. Any determination of whether one is an underwriter must take into account all the relevant facts and circumstances of each particular case.
Broker-dealers should also note that dealers who are not “underwriters” but are participating in a distribution (as contrasted to ordinary secondary transactions), and thus dealing with shares that are part of an “unsold allotment” within the meaning of Section 4(a)(3)(C) of the 1933 Act, would be unable to take advantage of the prospectus delivery exemption provided by Section 4(a)(3) of the 1933 Act. For delivery of prospectuses to exchange members, the prospectus delivery mechanism of Rule 153 under the 1933 Act is available only with respect to transactions on a national securities exchange.
Costs Associated with Creations and Redemptions. Authorized Participants are charged standard creation and redemption transaction fees to offset transfer, processing and other transaction costs associated with the issuance and redemption of Creation Units. The standard creation and redemption transaction fees are set forth in the table below. The standard creation and redemption transaction fees are charged on each Creation Unit created or redeemed, as applicable, by an Authorized Participant on the day of the transaction. The standard transaction fee is generally fixed at the amount shown in the table regardless of the number of Creation Units being purchased or redeemed, but may be reduced by the Fund if transfer and processing expenses associated with the creation or redemption are anticipated to be lower than the stated fee. If a purchase or redemption consists solely or partially of cash, the Authorized Participant may be required to pay an additional transaction charge (up to the maximum amounts shown in the table below) to cover brokerage and certain other costs related to a creation or redemption transaction. Investors who use the services of a broker or other financial intermediary to acquire or dispose of Fund shares may pay fees for such services.
The following table shows, as of September 30, 2019, the approximate value of one Creation Unit, standard transaction fees and maximum additional charges for creations and redemptions (as described above and in the Fund's SAI):
Approximate
Value of a
Creation Unit
  Creation
Unit Size
  Standard
Creation/
Redemption
Transaction Fee
  Maximum Additional
Charge for
Creations*
  Maximum Additional
Charge for
Redemptions*
$18,432,000   450,000   $7,700   7.0%   2.0%

* As a percentage of the net asset value per Creation Unit, inclusive, in the case of redemptions, of the standard redemption transaction fee.
If a purchase or redemption consists solely or partially of cash and the Fund places a brokerage transaction for portfolio securities with the Authorized Participant or its affiliated broker-dealer, the Authorized Participant (or an affiliated broker-dealer of the Authorized Participant) may be required, in its capacity as broker-dealer with respect to that transaction, to cover certain brokerage, tax, foreign exchange, execution, and
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price movement costs through a brokerage execution guarantee, as further described in the Fund’s SAI.
Householding. Householding is an option available to certain Fund investors. Householding is a method of delivery, based on the preference of the individual investor, in which a single copy of certain shareholder documents can be delivered to investors who share the same address, even if their accounts are registered under different names. Please contact your broker-dealer if you are interested in enrolling in householding and receiving a single copy of prospectuses and other shareholder documents, or if you are currently enrolled in householding and wish to change your householding status.
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Distribution
The Distributor or its agent distributes Creation Units for the Fund on an agency basis. The Distributor does not maintain a secondary market in shares of the Fund. The Distributor has no role in determining the policies of the Fund or the securities that are purchased or sold by the Fund. The Distributor’s principal address is 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540.
BFA or its affiliates make payments to broker-dealers, registered investment advisers, banks or other intermediaries (together, “intermediaries”) related to marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems, data provision services, or their making shares of the Fund and certain other iShares funds available to their customers generally and in certain investment programs. Such payments, which may be significant to the intermediary, are not made by the Fund. Rather, such payments are made by BFA or its affiliates from their own resources, which come directly or indirectly in part from fees paid by the iShares funds complex. Payments of this type are sometimes referred to as revenue-sharing payments. A financial intermediary may make decisions about which investment options it recommends or makes available, or the level of services provided, to its customers based on the payments or other financial incentives it is eligible to receive. Therefore, such payments or other financial incentives offered or made to an intermediary create conflicts of interest between the intermediary and its customers and may cause the intermediary to recommend the Fund or other iShares funds over another investment. More information regarding these payments is contained in the Fund's SAI. Please contact your salesperson or other investment professional for more information regarding any such payments his or her firm may receive from BFA or its affiliates.
Financial Highlights
The financial highlights table is intended to help investors understand the Fund’s financial performance for the past five years. Certain information reflects financial results for a single share of the Fund. The total returns in the table represent the rate that an investor would have earned (or lost) on an investment in the Fund, assuming reinvestment of all dividends and distributions. This information has been audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, whose report is included, along with the Fund's financial statements, in the Fund's Annual Report (available upon request).
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Financial Highlights
(For a share outstanding throughout each period)
  iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF
(Consolidated)
  Year Ended
08/31/19
  Year Ended
08/31/18
  Year Ended
08/31/17
  Year Ended
08/31/16
  Year Ended
08/31/15
Net asset value, beginning of year $ 43.24   $ 44.76   $ 36.74   $ 33.79   $ 45.11
Net investment income(a) 0.90   0.83 (b)   0.75   0.72   0.73
Net realized and unrealized gain (loss)(c) (3.02)   (1.36)   7.86   3.00   (11.21)
Net increase (decrease) from investment operations (2.12)   (0.53)   8.61   3.72   (10.48)
Distributions (d)                  
From net investment income (0.90)   (0.99)   (0.59)   (0.77)   (0.84)
Total distributions (0.90)   (0.99)   (0.59)   (0.77)   (0.84)
Net asset value, end of year $ 40.22   $ 43.24   $ 44.76   $ 36.74   $ 33.79
Total Return                  
Based on net asset value (4.87)%   (1.28)% (b)   23.80%   11.28%   (23.46)%
Ratios to Average Net Assets                  
Total expenses 0.68%   0.67%   0.69%   0.72%   0.69%
Total expenses after fees waived 0.68%   0.67%   0.69%   0.72%   0.69%
Total expenses excluding professional fees for foreign withholding tax claims 0.68%   0.67%   0.69%   N/A   N/A
Net investment income 2.16%   1.78% (b)   1.92%   2.15%   1.79%
Supplemental Data                  
Net assets, end of year (000) $24,631,575   $31,149,012   $35,891,890   $30,866,469   $21,000,865
Portfolio turnover rate(e) 15%   16%   9%   23%   10%

(a) Based on average shares outstanding.
(b) Reflects the one-time, positive effect of foreign withholding tax claims, net of the associated professional fees, which resulted in the following increases for the year ended August 31, 2018:
• Net investment income per share by $0.02.
• Total return by 0.07%.
• Ratio of net investment income to average net assets by 0.04%.
(c) The amounts reported for a share outstanding may not accord with the change in aggregate gains and losses in securities for the fiscal period due to the timing of capital share transactions in relation to the fluctuating market values of the Fund’s underlying securities.
(d) Distributions for annual periods determined in accordance with U.S. federal income tax regulations.
(e) Portfolio turnover rate excludes in-kind transactions.
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Index Provider
MSCI is a provider of investment decision support tools to investors globally. MSCI products and services include indices, portfolio risk and performance analytics, and governance tools. MSCI is not affiliated with the Company, BFA, State Street, the Distributor or any of their respective affiliates.
BFA or its affiliates have entered into a license agreement with the Index Provider to use the Underlying Index. BFA or its affiliates sublicense rights in the Underlying Index to the Company at no charge.
Disclaimers
This Prospectus and the SAI have not been filed with SEBI, and SEBI will not in any manner vouch for the financial soundness of the Fund/Subsidiary, BFA or the Portfolio Managers, or for the adequacy of the statements made in this Prospectus and the SAI. BFA or the Portfolio Managers will not be registered with SEBI.
The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by MSCI or any affiliate of MSCI. Neither MSCI nor any other party makes any representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the advisability of investing in funds generally or in the Fund particularly or the ability of the Underlying Index to track general stock market performance. MSCI is the licensor of certain trademarks, service marks and trade names of MSCI and of the Underlying Index, which is determined, composed and calculated by MSCI without regard to the issuer of the Fund’s securities or the Fund. MSCI has no obligation to take the needs of the issuer of the Fund’s securities or the owners of shares of the Fund into consideration in determining, composing or calculating the Underlying Index. MSCI is not responsible for and has not participated in the determination of the timing of, prices at, or quantities of the Fund’s shares to be issued or in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the Fund’s shares are redeemable for cash. Neither MSCI nor any other party has any obligation or liability to owners of shares of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the Fund’s shares.
ALTHOUGH MSCI SHALL OBTAIN INFORMATION FOR INCLUSION IN OR FOR USE IN THE CALCULATION OF THE INDEXES FROM SOURCES WHICH MSCI CONSIDERS RELIABLE, NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY GUARANTEES THE ACCURACY AND/OR THE COMPLETENESS OF THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN. NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY MAKES ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO RESULTS TO BE OBTAINED BY LICENSEE, LICENSEE’S CUSTOMERS AND COUNTERPARTIES, OWNERS OF SHARES OF THE FUND, OR ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY FROM THE USE OF THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN IN CONNECTION WITH THE RIGHTS LICENSED HEREUNDER OR FOR ANY OTHER USE. NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY MAKES ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, AND MSCI HEREBY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE WITH RESPECT
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TO THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN. WITHOUT LIMITING ANY OF THE FOREGOING, IN NO EVENT SHALL MSCI OR ANY OTHER PARTY HAVE ANY LIABILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, CONSEQUENTIAL OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES (INCLUDING LOST PROFITS) EVEN IF NOTIFIED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
Shares of the Fund are not sponsored, endorsed or promoted by NYSE Arca. NYSE Arca makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the ability of the Fund to track the total return performance of the Underlying Index or the ability of the Underlying Index to track stock market performance. NYSE Arca is not responsible for, nor has it participated in, the determination of the compilation or the calculation of the Underlying Index, nor in the determination of the timing of, prices of, or quantities of shares of the Fund to be issued, nor in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the shares are redeemable. NYSE Arca has no obligation or liability to owners of shares of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of shares of the Fund.
NYSE Arca does not guarantee the accuracy and/or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. NYSE Arca makes no warranty, express or implied, as to results to be obtained by the Company on behalf of the Fund as licensee, licensee’s customers and counterparties, owners of shares of the Fund, or any other person or entity from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein in connection with the rights licensed as described herein or for any other use. NYSE Arca makes no express or implied warranties and hereby expressly disclaims all warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose with respect to the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall NYSE Arca have any liability for any direct, indirect, special, punitive, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits) even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
The past performance of the Underlying Index is not a guide to future performance. BFA and its affiliates do not guarantee the accuracy or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein and BFA and its affiliates shall have no liability for any errors, omissions or interruptions therein. BFA and its affiliates make no warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or to any other person or entity, as to results to be obtained by the Fund from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall BFA or its affiliates have any liability for any special, punitive, direct, indirect, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits), even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
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Supplemental Information
I. Premium/Discount Information
The table that follows presents information about the differences between the daily market price on secondary markets for shares of the Fund and the Fund’s NAV. NAV is the price at which the Fund issues and redeems shares. It is calculated in accordance with the standard formula for valuing mutual fund shares. The price used to calculate market returns (“Market Price”) of the Fund generally is determined using the midpoint between the highest bid and the lowest ask on the primary securities exchange on which shares of the Fund are listed for trading, as of the time that the Fund’s NAV is calculated. The Fund’s Market Price may be at, above or below its NAV. The NAV of the Fund will fluctuate with changes in the value of its portfolio holdings. The Market Price of the Fund will fluctuate in accordance with changes in its NAV, as well as market supply and demand.
Premiums or discounts are the differences (expressed as a percentage) between the NAV and Market Price of the Fund on a given day, generally at the time the NAV is calculated. A premium is the amount that the Fund is trading above the reported NAV, expressed as a percentage of the NAV. A discount is the amount that the Fund is trading below the reported NAV, expressed as a percentage of the NAV.
The following information shows the frequency of distributions of premiums and discounts for the Fund for each full calendar quarter of 2018 through September 30, 2019.
Each line in the table shows the number of trading days in which the Fund traded within the premium/discount range indicated. Premium/discount ranges with no trading days are omitted. The number of trading days in each premium/discount range is also shown as a percentage of the total number of trading days in the period covered by the table. All data presented here represents past performance, which cannot be used to predict future results.
Premium/Discount Range   Number of Days   Percentage of Total Days
Greater than 2.0% and Less than 2.5%   1   0.23%
Greater than 1.5% and Less than 2.0%   8   1.82
Greater than 1.0% and Less than 1.5%   16   3.64
Greater than 0.5% and Less than 1.0%   60   13.67
Greater than 0.0% and Less than 0.5%   142   32.34
At NAV   5   1.14
Less than 0.0% and Greater than -0.5%   116   26.42
Less than -0.5% and Greater than -1.0%   53   12.08
Less than -1.0% and Greater than -1.5%   25   5.69
Less than -1.5% and Greater than -2.0%   9   2.05
Less than -2.0% and Greater than -2.5%   2   0.46
Less than -3.0% and Greater than -3.5%   1   0.23
Less than -3.5% and Greater than -4.0%   1   0.23
    439   100.00%
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II. Total Return Information
The table that follows presents information about the total returns of the Fund and the Underlying Index as of the fiscal year ended August 31, 2019.
“Average Annual Total Returns” represents the average annual change in value of an investment over the periods indicated. “Cumulative Total Returns” represents the total change in value of an investment over the periods indicated.
The Fund’s NAV is the value of one share of the Fund as calculated in accordance with the standard formula for valuing mutual fund shares. The NAV return is based on the NAV of the Fund and the market return is based on the Market Price of the Fund. Market Price generally is determined by using the midpoint between the highest bid and the lowest ask on the primary stock exchange on which shares of the Fund are listed for trading, as of the time that the Fund's NAV is calculated. Market and NAV returns assume that dividends and capital gain distributions have been reinvested in the Fund at Market Price and NAV, respectively.
An index is a financial calculation, based on a grouping of financial instruments, that is not an investment product and that tracks a specified financial market or sector. Unlike the Fund, the Underlying Index does not actually hold a portfolio of securities and therefore does not incur the expenses incurred by the Fund. These expenses negatively impact the performance of the Fund. Also, market returns do not include brokerage commissions and other charges that may be payable on secondary market transactions. If brokerage commissions were included, market returns would be lower. The returns shown in the following table do not reflect the deduction of taxes that a shareholder would pay on Fund distributions or the redemption or sale of Fund shares. The investment return and principal value of shares of the Fund will vary with changes in market conditions. Shares of the Fund may be worth more or less than their original cost when they are redeemed or sold in the market. The Fund’s past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Performance as of August 31, 2019
  Average Annual Total Returns   Cumulative Total Returns
  1 Year 5 Years 10 Years   1 Year 5 Years 10 Years
Fund NAV (4.87)% (0.20)% 3.26%   (4.87)% (0.99)% 37.83%
Fund Market (4.89) (0.20) 3.29   (4.89) (1.01) 38.20
Index (4.36) 0.38 4.07   (4.36) 1.93 49.08
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Want to know more?
iShares.com     |    1-800-474-2737
Copies of the Prospectus, SAI and recent shareholder reports can be found on our website at www.iShares.com. For more information about the Fund, you may request a copy of the SAI. The SAI provides detailed information about the Fund and is incorporated by reference into this Prospectus. This means that the SAI, for legal purposes, is a part of this Prospectus.
Additional information about the Fund's investments is available in the Fund's Annual and Semi-Annual Reports to shareholders. In the Fund's Annual Report, you will find a discussion of the market conditions and investment strategies that significantly affected the Fund's performance during the last fiscal year.
If you have any questions about the Company or shares of the Fund or you wish to obtain the SAI, Semi-Annual or Annual Report free of charge, please:
Call: 1-800-iShares or 1-800-474-2737 (toll free)
Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Eastern time)
Email: iSharesETFs@blackrock.com
Write: c/o BlackRock Investments, LLC
1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540
Reports and other information about the Fund are available on the EDGAR database on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov, and copies of this information may be obtained, after paying a duplicating fee, by electronic request at the following e-mail address: publicinfo@sec.gov.
No person is authorized to give any information or to make any representations about the Fund and its shares not contained in this Prospectus and you should not rely on any other information. Read and keep this Prospectus for future reference.
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Investment Company Act File No.: 811-09102
IS-P-EEM-0120