Singapore was named as the world’s most competitive economy, ahead of Hong Kong and the US, in a yearly ranking of 63 economies released in May by Swiss-based research group IMD World Competitiveness Centre.
Singapore’s return to the top spot – for the first time since 2010 – was due to: its advanced technological infrastructure, the availability of skilled labour, favourable immigration laws and efficient ways to set up new businesses, the report said.
Singapore was ranked in the top five in three out of the four key categories that were assessed, – fifth for economic performance, third for government efficiency, and fifth for business efficiency. In the final category, infrastructure, it was ranked sixth.
Hong Kong – the only other Asian economy in the overall top ten – held on to the second spot largely due to its benign tax and business policy environment, as well as access to business finance. The US, which was last year’s leader, slipped to the third position, with Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates in fourth and fifth.
IMD said Asian economies “emerged as a beacon for competitiveness” with 11 out of 14 economies either moving up the charts or holding on to their positions. Indonesia was the region’s biggest mover, advancing 11 places to 32nd, thanks to increased efficiency in the government sector, as well as better infrastructure and business conditions.
Thailand moved up five places to 25th, propelled by an increase in foreign direct investments and productivity, while Taiwan (16th), India (43rd) and the Philippines (46th) all also saw improvements. China (14th) and South Korea (28th) both slid one spot. Japan fell five places to 30th on the back of a sluggish economy, government debt, and a weakening business environment.
Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said: “For Singapore to stay ahead amid intensifying competition globally, the country must continue to get its fundamentals right. Singapore cannot afford to compete on cost or size, but should focus on its connectivity, quality and creativity.
“The country will also need to leverage on its brand of trust and standards and continue to be a safe harbour for partnerships and collaboration. In addition, Singapore has to continue to diversify its linkages with more markets, stay open and be plugged into talent, technology, data and finance flows.”