Friday, 30 September 2016

Singapore retains No. 2 competitiveness spot in World Economic Forum report 2016-2017

Republic tops WEF list in higher education and training, and goods market efficiency
By Yasmine Yahya, Assistant Business Editor, The Straits Times, 29 Sep 2016

Singapore has been named the second-most competitive economy in the world - the sixth year in a row it has been runner-up.

It came just behind Switzerland, which topped the list for the eighth consecutive year in an annual report compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The United States was third, while the Netherlands and Germany rounded off the top five.

Each country is assessed based on 12 categories that collectively provide a comprehensive picture of its competitiveness.

Singapore was ranked best in the world in two of the 12 categories - higher education and training, and goods market efficiency - and second in five: public institutions, infrastructure, health and primary education, labour market efficiency, and financial market development.

"Singapore's public institutions are transparent and highly efficient. Its infrastructures are among the world's best. Singapore boasts a stable macroeconomic environment with healthy public finances - the government budget has been in surplus since 2010," the WEF noted in its report.

However, it added: "Singapore still lags behind the best-performing nations in the most sophisticated areas of competitiveness, with a relatively disappointing 19th rank in the business sophistication (category) and 9th rank in... innovation."

Credit Suisse economist Michael Wan said Singapore's weaker performance in innovation and business sophistication is certainly not for a lack of effort on the Government's part.

"The Government certainly has been taking steps to raise innovation in the economy but there have been constraints which have not been resolved," he said.

"One reason could be our education system but, to be fair, the Government is addressing that, too, and has been making changes to create a more well-rounded system."

Singapore is far from being the only economy weaker in innovation. The WEF noted that "progress in building an enabling environment for innovation remains the advantage of only a few economies", even though the "Fourth Industrial Revolution" is gathering speed.

"Breakthroughs in technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, robotics, the Internet of things and 3D printing, to name a few, will provide new avenues for growth and development in the future but could also give rise to significant social challenges," the WEF added.

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