China Hong Kong took the top spot in the MD 2016 World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) which compared and ranked 61 countries based on more than 340 business competitiveness criteria.
Switzerland was named the world’s second most competitive economy, followed by the US, Singapore and Sweden.
Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway and Canada rounded out the top 10 list.
Australia improved its score from last year’s report, jumping from 18 to 17 – its first time moving up in the rankings after five years of decline.
Committee for Economic Development of Australia’s (CEDA) chief executive professor, Stephen Martin, said the survey was an indication Australia’s business community was more confident in the country’s ability to adapt to the changing economic environment following the end of the mining construction boom.
“The mining boom is over but the slack is being picked up by other sectors so while our economy is not going as fast as in the previous decade we are still growing,” Mr Martin said.
“Overall, economic performance improved slightly on the back of gains in rankings for international investment, R&D and employment.
“However, lower GPD growth and low inflation relative to other countries have meant we haven’t improved on core economic indicators.”
Mr Martin said Australia’s improved rankings in the R&D and innovation categories were positive.
“R&D and innovation are always top priorities and it appears confidence is growing in our ability to keep pace globally in these areas,” he said.
“It appears the business community is less worried about R&D moving overseas than a year ago with Australia moving up the rankings [in this category] from 53 to 47.”
However, Mr Martin noted that to support R&D, Australia needs the right IT infrastructure which the report found was still an area of concern.
“Australia improved in the technological infrastructure category from 33 to 26, but this seems to be largely due to the increasing number of broadband subscribers,” he said.
“Improving interest bandwidth speed still has a long way to go, with Australia dropping in the rankings from 26 to 39 which means despite the rollout of the NBN, other countries are getting better quicker.
“Even more alarmingly, Australia’s information technology skills have dropped from a ranking of 27 last year to 36 this year.”
Another concerning area highlighted in the report was property prices.
“The results of the WCY shows this is not just an issue for those seeking homes but also for those renting commercial premises with our ranking moving from 40 [to] 53, making us one of the highest cost nations for commercial rental properties of the 61 countries assessed,” Mr Martin said.
“For the apartment rental ranking, Australia fell even further in the rankings, dropping from 48 to 56.”
The WCY is a global report that assesses countries in 340 core economic measures. Two-thirds are based on statistical indicators while one third is based on a survey of almost 5,500 international executives conducted between February and March this year.
CEDA is the Australian partner for the WCY.
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