Qatar leads Mena region in competitiveness: report
Manama, September 4, 2013
Qatar topped the Middle East and North Africa region in a major competitiveness ranking, while the United Arab Emirates entered the top 20 of the list for the first time.
The 2013-14 Global Competitiveness Report's index palces Switzerland at the top of the ranking for the fifth year running. Singapore and Finland remain in second and third positions respectively. Germany moves up two places to fourth postion and the US reverses a four-year downward trend, climbing two places to fifth. Hong Kong SAR (7th) and Japan (9th) also close the gap on the most competitive economies, while Sweden (6th), the Netherlands (8th) and the United Kingdom (10th) fall, said the report prepared by the World Economic Forum.
Excellent innovation and strong institutional environments are increasingly influencing economies’ competitiveness, according to the report.
Qatar ranked 13th on the global list, while the UAE stood at 19th. Saudi Arabia (20th) fell two places but remained among the top 20. Israel ranked 27th. Egypt (118th) dropped a further 11 places on last year’s index. Bahrain (43rd), Jordan (68th) and Morocco (77th) also declined. Elsewhere in the region, Algeria moved up to 100th place and Tunisia re-entered the index at 83rd.
The US continues to be a world leader in bringing innovative products and services to market. Its rise in the ranking is down to a perceived improvement in the country’s financial market as well as greater confidence in its public institutions. However, serious concerns persist over its macroeconomic stability, which ranks 117 out of 148 economies.
In Europe, efforts to tackle public debt and avoid a break-up of the euro have taken the focus off addressing deeper competitiveness issues. Southern European economies such as Spain (35th), Italy (49th), Portugal (51st) and notably Greece (91st) all need to continue addressing weaknesses in the functioning and efficiency of their markets, boost innovation and improve access to finance in order to help bridge the region’s competitiveness divide.
Some of the world’s largest emerging market economies must also engage business, government and civil society to implement long-overdue reforms. Of the five BRICS, China (29th) continues to lead the group, followed by South Africa (53rd), Brazil (56th) India (60th) and Russia (64th). Among the BRICS, only Russia improves its ranking, climbing three places, while Brazil drops eight places.
Among the Asian economies, Indonesia jumps to 38th, making it the most improved of the G20 economies since 2006, while Korea (25th) falls by six places. Behind Singapore, Hong Kong SAR, Japan and Taiwan (China) (12th) all remain in the top 20.
Developing Asian nations display very mixed performances and trends: Malaysia places 24th while countries such as Nepal (117th), Pakistan (133rd) and Timor-Leste (138th) are near the bottom of the ranking. Bhutan (109th), Lao PDR (81st) and Myanmar (139th) join the index for the first time.
In sub-Saharan Africa, Mauritius (45th) overtakes South Africa (53rd) as the region’s most competitive economy. With only eight countries in the region featuring in the top 100, profound efforts across the board are clearly needed to improve Africa’s competitiveness. Among low-income economies, Kenya makes the biggest improvement, rising by ten places to 96th position. Nigeria (120th) continues to be ranked low, highlighting the need for it to diversify its economy.
Despite robust economic growth in previous years, Latin America continues to suffer from low rates of productivity and the results show overall stagnation in competitiveness performance. Chile (34th) continues to lead the regional rankings ahead of Panama (40th), Costa Rica (54th) and Mexico (55th), which all remain relatively stable.
“Innovation becomes even more critical in terms of an economy’s ability to foster future prosperity,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. “I predict that the traditional distinction between countries being ‘developed’ or ‘less developed’ will gradually disappear and we will instead refer to them much more in terms of being ‘innovation rich’ vs. ‘innovation poor’ countries. It is therefore vital that leaders from business, government and civil society work collaboratively to create education systems and enable environments which foster innovation.”
Xavier Sala-i-Martin, professor of economics, Columbia University, said: “The report highlights a shift in the narrative of the global economy from one year ago, when fire-fighting still characterized much of global and regional economic policy. This has now given way to an increasing urgency for leaders to make wide-ranging structural reforms to their economies.” - TradeArabia News Service