Brussels, 06 May 2004
A competitiveness report by IMD, a Swiss business school, has put Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Ireland in the top ten of a list of the most competitive countries, and found Germany's Bavaria region and Slovakia to be two of the top ten 'big movers'.
The IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook has been compiled annually since 1989, and rates the competitiveness of 60 economies, using 323 criteria. The criteria are divided into four categories:
- a macro-economic evaluation of the domestic economy;
- the extent to which government policies are conducive to competitiveness;
- the extent to which enterprises are performing in an innovative, profitable and responsible manner;
- the extent to which basic, technological, scientific and human resources meet the needs of business.
The last category has the most influence on the final rankings, and is the umbrella for 94 criteria used to judge competitiveness. These include assessments of technological infrastructure, scientific infrastructure and education.
The US is top of this year's competitiveness ranking, while second and third places go to Singapore and Canada respectively. Iceland is the first European country on the list, in position number five, while EU Member States (Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Ireland) occupy the bottom four positions in the top ten.
Asian countries and regions are found to be the biggest movers, although Bavaria in Germany does make it into third place, after the Chinese region of Zhejiang and India, while Slovakia is the fifth biggest mover.
'A new breed of local competitors emerges, mainly from Asia, and soon from Russia and Central Europe,' said Professor Stéphane Garelli from IMD. 'Such nations are quickly absorbing world standards in management and technology, which are spread by offshoring activities.'
The report also shows that US companies are investing four dollars abroad for every one dollar invested at home. Asia is attracting 60 per cent of the investments going to developing companies, while China has become the top recipient of direct investment. These trends, along with the rising cost of labour in the US and Western Europe, are pushing up competitiveness in Asia, and increasingly in Central and East European countries.
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