Saudi ranking climbs 13 places among world’s most competitive economies

May 28, 2019
A bird's-eye view of King Fahd Road in the Riyadh city.
A bird's-eye view of King Fahd Road in the Riyadh city.

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia’s ranking among the world’s most competitive economies has climbed 13 places from 39 in 2018 to 26 in 2019, according to the IMD World Competitiveness Rankings.

The Kingdom, this year’s biggest climber ranked 7th among the G20 nations, while emerging above many advanced economies of the world such as South Korea, Japan, France, Indonesia, India, Russia, Mexico, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina.

The Lausanne-based International Institute for Management Development (IMD)’s World Competitiveness Rankings incorporate 235 indicators from each of the 63 ranked economies.

The ranking takes into account a wide range of hard statistics such as unemployment, GDP and government spending on health and education, as well as soft data from an Executive Opinion Survey covering topics such as social cohesion, globalization and corruption.

This information feeds into four categories — economic performance, infrastructure, government efficiency and business efficiency — to give a final score for each country. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for competitiveness, but the best performing countries tend to score well across all four categories.

Saudi Arabia’s ranking has witnessed a jump in three categories — government efficiency from 30 to 18; business efficiency from 45 to 25; and infrastructure from 44 to 38.

Majed Al-Qasabi, minister of commerce and investment and chairman of the National Competitiveness Center, attributed the remarkable improvement in the Kingdom’s ranking to the outcome of the integration of the efforts of over 40 government entities that took part in implementing several reforms to boost the Kingdom’s business environment and raise its competitiveness among the countries in line with the objectives of the Vision 2030.

Al-Qasabi said the National Competitiveness Center, which was recently re-organized by the Council of Ministers, aims to institutionalize the work of the Executive Committee for Improving the Performance of the Private Sector (Tayseer) and encourage it to participate in the economic development.

This is through improving and developing the competitive environment as well as carrying out studies about the challenges facing the private sector, analyzing them and suggesting solutions and initiatives to address them.

The Kingdom has been officially listed for the first time in the IMD World Competitiveness Rankings report in 2017. The report measures the performance of the most competitive economies in the world since 1989.

Singapore has been ranked the world’s competitive economy for the first time since 2010, as the United States slipped from the top spot, while economic uncertainty took its toll on conditions in Europe.

Singapore's rise to the top was driven by its advanced technological infrastructure, the availability of skilled labor, favorable immigration laws, and efficient ways to set up new businesses. Hong Kong held on to second place, helped by a benign tax and business policy environment and access to business finance.

The initial boost to confidence from President Donald Trump's first wave of tax policies appears to have faded in the United States, according to the ranking. While still setting the pace globally for levels of infrastructure and economic performance, the competitiveness of the world's biggest economy was hit by higher fuel prices, weaker hi-tech exports and fluctuations in the value of the dollar.

"In a year of high uncertainty in global markets due to rapid changes in the international political landscape as well as trade relations, the quality of institutions seem to be the unifying element for increasing prosperity. A strong institutional framework provides the stability for business to invest and innovate, ensuring a higher quality of life for citizens," said Arturo Bris, IMD Professor and Director of IMD World Competitiveness Center, the research center which compiles the ranking.

Economists regard competitiveness as vital for the long-term health of a country's economy as it empowers businesses to achieve sustainable growth, generate jobs and, ultimately, enhance the welfare of citizens.

Switzerland climbed to fourth place from fifth, helped by economic growth, the stability of the Swiss franc and high-quality infrastructure. — With input from PR Newswires

May 28, 2019
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