Singapore continues to lead Asia in global competitiveness rankings

Author: PM editorial | Date: 5 Oct 2016

City-state remains second in the world while Hong Kong falls two places, in report by World Economic Forum

Singapore continues to ride high in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual global competitiveness index, leading the way in Asia and ranking second in the world.
In the report, which compares the relative economic health of 138 countries, Hong Kong dropped two places since last year to ninth, Taiwan rose one place to 14th and Malaysia fell seven places to 25th.
“The report is being launched at a time of rising income inequality, mounting social and political tensions, and a general feeling of uncertainty about the future,” said the WEF. “Growth remains persistently low: commodity prices have fallen, as has trade; external imbalances are increasing; and government finances are stressed.
“However, it also comes during one of the most prosperous and peaceful times in recorded history, with less disease, poverty and violent conflict than ever before.”
The WEF report offered advice on how countries could improve their score in future. “The region’s advanced economies need to further develop their innovation capacity. Japan and Singapore are the only economies in Asia among the world’s top 10 innovators, ranking respectively 8th and 9th for innovation,” said the WEF.
Each country was given a ranking based on its performance in 12 ‘pillars’: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, and innovation.
Singapore scored highly across all categories except business sophistication and innovation. The WEF said: “It tops the higher education and training pillar and the goods market efficiency pillar, and ranks second in a further five. Singapore’s public institutions are transparent and highly efficient and its infrastructures are among the world’s best. It boasts a stable macroeconomic climate, with healthy public finances – the government budget has been in surplus since 2010.”
Hong Kong was praised for its sophisticated financial sector, efficient domestic market, and flexible labour market. Taiwan scored well, but has problems such as political instability and inefficient government bureaucracy holding it back from reaching the top 10.
Malaysia however, dropped down the rankings because of poor access to financing and a greater need to tackle corruption.