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PH competitiveness rank slightly up but still behind SE Asian peers

/ 04:06 AM June 17, 2020

For the fourth year in a row, the Philippines was ranked the least competitive of five Southeast Asian countries covered by the 2020 World Competitiveness Yearbook survey.

Overall, the Philippines landed 45th of 63 countries covered by the global survey. This was a notch higher than the country’s rank last year.

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The four other Southeast Asian countries covered were Singapore, which remained at the top of the global list, Malaysia, 27th; Thailand, 29th and Indonesia, 40th. The last three countries saw their rankings drop in the 2020 World Competitiveness Yearbook survey.

The results of the survey were based on statistical data in 2019 and, therefore, were still not reflective of the impact of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on economies around the world.

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However, the International Institute for Management Development, a business school in Switzerland that prepared the report, was said to have also taken into consideration the findings of a survey done on more than 5,800 business executives from February to April this year in the preparation of the latest report, which was on its 32nd year of publication.

COVID-19 response

A policy brief by IIMD’s local partner, the Asian Institute of Management Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center for Competitiveness, stressed the importance of responding to the crisis well in improving the country’s competitiveness. “COVID-19 has presented unprecedented public health, governance and economic challenges for the Philippines. Overcoming these obstacles is central to improving overall competitiveness,” AIM said.

“Ideally, quarantine measures are in place to prevent overburdening the healthcare system in the short-term,” it said.

“However, as quarantine restrictions are slowly being eased to restart economic activity, the government and other stakeholders must also prepare the healthcare system for possible succeeding waves of COVID-19 by improving testing capacity and contact tracing efforts,” it added.

The World Competitiveness Yearbook defined competitiveness as “the ability of a nation to create and maintain an environment that sustains more value creation for its enterprises and more prosperity for its people.”

To assess this, it looked at four main factors: economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure. Each factor has its own sub-factors.

Weaknesses

The Philippines ranked 42nd and 33rd in government efficiency and business efficiency, respectively. Both factors saw a one-notch decline from last year.

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Economic performance, meanwhile, dropped six places from 38th to 44th. Among the four, it ranked the lowest in infrastructure, where it ranked at 59th.

A sub-factor under this is education, wherein the country ranked 61st of 63, which the AIM policy brief called a “glaring weakness.”

Based on the executive opinion survey, the country’s skilled workforce was its most attractive aspect, as listed by 63 percent of respondents, followed by the dynamism of the economy (62 percent), high educational level (57 percent), cost competitiveness (42 percent), and effective labor relations (31 percent).

The least-identified indicators were quality of corporate governance (14 percent), competency of government (17 percent), policy stability and predictability (19 percent), competitive tax regime (19 percent), and strong research & development culture (19 percent). INQ

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