Malaysia up 2 spots to 23rd in global competitiveness ranking

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 27, 2017.
-A +A

KUALA LUMPUR: After suffering a steep fall in last year’s ranking, Malaysia moved up two spots to the 23rd place out of 137 countries in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) released today.

The country was in the 18th place in 2015, but fell seven spots to 25th in 2016.

In a statement, International Trade and Industry Minister (Miti) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the latest ranking affirms the strength of Malaysia’s macroeconomic fundamentals and that its economic policies are on the right track. “Our exports are doing well and we continue to receive healthy flows of foreign direct investments,” said Mustapa.

In the latest ranking, Miti said Malaysia overtook Ireland and Qatar and remained ahead of economies such as South Korea, China and Estonia.

“We also maintained our position as the most competitive among emerging economies in East Asia and the Pacific region, as well as among 20 economies in the transition stage from efficiency-driven to innovation-driven. It is important to note that all the countries ranked above Malaysia are developed and of high-income economies,” said Miti.

At the 23rd place, Malaysia was overtaken by Australia, Taiwan, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore and the US, among others, and obtained a performance score of 5.17 out of seven, up from 5.16 last year. Overall, the report ranked Switzerland as the most competitive economy in the world for the ninth consecutive year, ahead of the US and Singapore, followed by the Netherlands and Germany.

The GCR is an annual report published by the WEF based on the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) that combines 114 indicators integrating both macroeconomic and microeconomic aspects of competitiveness. These indicators are grouped into 12 pillars, comprising institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation.

Malaysia was among the top 50 countries in each of the 12 pillars, despite declining in six of them. It performed most strongly in the financial market development, where it was placed 16th, and improved the most in the health and primary education pillar, advancing 14 positions to 30th.

Mustapa said the country’s competitiveness can only be improved if there is coordinated actions among the government, private sector and civil society.

He said continuous efforts are being made by the Malaysia Productivity Corp and the Civil Service Delivery Unit, together with relevant parties, to ensure the country’s achievements are accurately reflected in both the soft and hard data compiled to measure competitiveness.

“Looking ahead, while the improvement should be welcomed, we must not get too overwhelmed and lose sight of future challenges. The landscape is rapidly changing and thus we must ramp-up our efforts in fostering greater public-private partnership collaborations and being in the forefront of future trends including Industry 4.0,” said Mustapa.