The Republic has been deemed the second-most competitive economy in the world, according to the latest rankings published by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF).
Singapore improved on its third-place finish last year and is now just behind Switzerland, which retained its top spot for a third straight year.
Sweden dropped one rung to third and Finland came in fourth. The United States – which was No 1 as recently as 2008 – declined for a third straight year to fifth spot.
The annual competitiveness survey – released yesterday – covered 142 countries and is based on economic data and a survey of some 15,000 business executives worldwide. Together they form an index, which was introduced in 2004.
The survey assessed countries based on 12 categories including innovation, market size, infrastructure and the macroeconomic environment.
Singapore’s economy expanded by a record 14.5 per cent in 2010 after a stunning rebound from the crisis, although the GDP growth forecast for this year is expected to be much lower at between 5-6 per cent.
The WEF report noted how Singapore scored well in terms of having low levels of corruption and an efficient government.
China, which recently bypassed Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy, moved up the ladder for a sixth straight year to 26th, which also meant that it was the highest-ranked of the large developing economies.
Among the other major Asian economies, Japan came in ninth while Hong Kong was 11th.
Malaysia was 21st but India tumbled five places to 56th spot. Still, the overall strong showing by Asia could be seen as further proof of the shift in the global balance of power from the West to the East.
The WEF wrote in its report that Asia’s ‘rise to economic prominence’ had been accompanied by a remarkable dynamism in terms of competitiveness.
‘Much of the developing world is still seeing relatively strong growth, despite some risk of overheating, while most advanced economies continue to experience sluggish recovery, persistent unemployment and financial vulnerability, with no clear horizon for improvement,’ said WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab in a statement.
The US’ weaker showing once again was this time attributed to economic vulnerabilities as well as ‘some aspects of the US’ institutional environment’, in particular a low public trust in its politicians and corporate ethics and concerns about government inefficiency, among others.
The WEF, however, did praise the US for its productivity, highly sophisticated and innovative companies, excellent universities and flexible labour market.
Perhaps surprisingly, Western European countries dominated the survey’s top 10 economies, despite the ongoing crisis of confidence within the European financial system.
Apart from Sweden (third) and Finland (fourth), Germany came in sixth, followed by the Netherlands and Denmark.
The United Kingdom took 10th spot, France was 18th and bankrupt Greece dropped seven places to 90th.
Flying the European flag high once again was the top-ranked Switzerland, which the WEF said had emerged relatively unscathed by the crisis and had low unemployment and debt levels.
The country also benefited from effective public institutions, good public infrastructure and highly developed financial markets, said the WEF.
One of the forum’s chief economists, Jennifer Blanke, told the Wall Street Journal in an interview yesterday that the soaring Swiss franc could put pressure on the country’s competitiveness in the future.
As for the Middle East, Qatar was that particular region’s highest-ranked economy at 14th, while Saudi Arabia came in at 17th. The oil-rich United Arab Emirates was 27th. Meanwhile, the landlocked Saharan state of Chad was ranked last.
By: LEE U-WEN