Global Review: a global competitive streak

The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018 ranks countries by how productive they are, taking into account their policies, institutions, approach to innovation and other factors


1. Switzerland (rank 1)

Retaining the top spot from last year’s ranking with an improved score of 5.86 out of 7 (up from 5.81), Switzerland is something of an all-rounder, scoring highly across all the categories laid out by the World Economic Forum. It ranks exceptionally well in terms of primary education, public health and macroeconomic development. It also boasts a highly flexible economy, although thereís room for improvement in terms of technological readiness, in which it currently ranks second globally. However, in terms of innovation and business sector sophistication, itís a strong performer, and its labour markets are recognised as the most efficient in the world.

2. Singapore (Rank 3)

Singapore may have lost its second-place spot to the US this year, but it continues to perform well, scoring 5.71 overall and taking the leading spot in the higher education and public sector performance categories. It counts among the top 10 countries for innovation and ticks most other boxes too, coming in second for transport infrastructure and labour market functioning, and third for its continually stable financial sector. The sophistication of its business sector (18th) and innovation (ninth) are slightly weaker points, however ñ as is its macroeconomic environment, which is feeling the effects of an ongoing deflationary trend.

3. Canada (Rank 14)

Canada excels in its use of talent, taking third place in this category, and in its labour market efficiency, where it comes in at number seven. Among its more troubling areas are tech readiness and a lack of clarity around trade policy in the US. Government spending could also be better targeted ñ the country has fallen 13 places in terms of spending efficiency ñ while challenging macroeconomic conditions also continue to hold it back. Inefficient government bureaucracy, meanwhile, is considered the number one obstacle when it comes to doing business in the country, followed by it high tax rates and insufficient capacity to innovate.

4. UAE (Rank 17)

Although it has fallen one place since last year, the UAE remains the indisputable king of competitiveness in the Gulf region. Economic growth in the Middle East has faced a continual slowdown since 2015 on the back of declining oil and gas prices, as well as deteriorating worldwide trade, but the UAE has managed to remain stable and resilient thanks to a successful approach to diversification. IMF forecasts put GDP growth at 3.4 percent for 2018, up from projections of 1.3 percent in 2017, on the back of recent government structural reforms and growth in Abu Dhabi. However, it does fall behind in technology and education, ranking 36th in both.

 5. China (Rank 27)

The mega-force that is China continues to grow rapidly, and its global competitiveness is following suit. Up one place from last year, it has improved under every category bar infrastructure, in part due to questions surrounding the reliability of its electricity supply and macroeconomic environment. The nation is starting to excel in the innovation stakes, however, with improved IT penetration and tech readiness across the country, spurred on by overseas investment in the sector. A slight loosening of the restrictions around launching a business has also helped raise the score when it comes to the efficiency of its goods market.

6. Russia (Rank 38)

Russia has moved up five places from last year thanks to a drastically improved macroeconomic environment; it has climbed 38 places to reach number 53 in this category. However, stability continues to be an issue given the countryís reliance on mineral exports and the ever-present problem of corruption. Other areas for improvement include judicial independence, for which it ranks 90th, and its financial market, where it ranks 107th on the back of a still-struggling banking sector. Labour market flexibility has meanwhile dropped 18 positions following the introduction of laws to raise the minimum wage and protect temporary employment.

 7. Brazil (Rank 80)

Rising from a score of 4.06 last year to 4.14 this year, Brazil has seen some improvement recently following successive drops in rankings and tumbling GDP growth. Its institutions have enhanced their transparency following a series of investigations into political issues and corruption scandals, and the nation has moved up 11 places in this category as a result. It has also come on in leaps and bounds in terms of innovation, with a renewed focus on enhancing research and collaboration between universities and businesses. The state has meanwhile sought to cut deficits and control excessive inflation ñ with evident success.

8. Nigeria (Rank 125)

Ranking 13th from the bottom, Nigeria scores just 3.3 in this yearís competitiveness index, marking a persistent decline since 2012. The countryís sizeable budget deficit and challenging macroeconomic environment havenít helped; it is ranked 122nd for the latter, marking a fall of 14 places. This is compounded by high rates of inflation (15.7 percent), unstable institutions and plunging commodity prices. It scores relatively low in terms of technological readiness, higher education and innovation, but a string of reforms set to be enacted under Nigeriaís Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020 could generate a positive shift in terms of its business and infrastructure.


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