Friday, November 2, 2007

Singapore has overtaken Japan to become the most competitive economy in Asia, according to a World Economic Forum (WEF) report.

Singapore has overtaken Japan to become the most competitive economy in Asia, according to a World Economic Forum (WEF) report.

The Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) 2007-2008, which was released yesterday, ranks Singapore at No 7 in the world - an improvement from its eighth spot last year. In contrast, Japan slid from its fifth place last year and is now ranked No 8 in the list of competitive economies. Overall, the United States emerged first, followed by Switzerland and Denmark.

In all, there are another seven Asia-Pacific countries - including South Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia - that found their way into the top 30. China and India continue to lead the way among large developing economies, WEF said. Several countries in the Middle East and North Africa region are in the upper half of the rankings, led by Israel, Kuwait, Qatar, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In sub-Saharan Africa, only South Africa and Mauritius feature in the top half of the rankings, with several countries at the bottom. In Latin America, Chile is the highest ranked country, followed by Mexico and Costa Rica.

‘The Asia region encompasses the entire gamut in our ranking, from highly competitive countries to the most challenged, drawing an extremely heterogeneous picture with respect to the levels of growth and development achieved in the region,’ said Fiona Paua, head of Strategic Insight Teams at the WEF.

For example, nine Asia-Pacific countries are among the top 30, ‘while Mongolia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal and Timor-Leste are all positioned at the very bottom of the rankings’, she added.

The rankings are calculated from both publicly available data and the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the World Economic Forum together with its network of partner institutes, including research institutes and business organisations in the countries covered. This year, over 11,000 business leaders were polled in a record 131 countries.

The survey is designed to capture a broad range of factors affecting an economy’s business climate.

The study also includes comprehensive listings of the main strengths and weaknesses of countries, making it possible to identify key priorities for policy reform. ‘Economic policy, especially at the microeconomic level, needs to set priorities that reflect the most important constraints to competitiveness in each country,’ said Michael Porter, professor at Harvard Business School and co-director of the report.

‘The GCR enables countries to move beyond abstract theoretical policy debates and identify the specific tasks ahead of them. In an uncertain global financial environment, it is more important than ever for countries to put into place the fundamentals underpinning economic growth and development.’

Source : Business Times - 1 Nov 2007

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