Thursday 14 November 2019

Ireland slips again in the latest global competitiveness rankings

The Convention Centre Dublin
The Convention Centre Dublin

Colm Kelpie

Ireland has slipped one place to 24 in a global competitiveness ranking, while the UK is at number eight.

The gauge from the World Economic Forum ranks the "inadequate supply of infrastructure" as the greatest problem for businesses in Ireland, followed closely by tax rates and "inefficient government bureaucracy".

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) tracks the performance of almost 140 countries on 12 pillars of competitiveness.

Switzerland, for the last nine years, has topped the list, narrowly ahead of the US and Singapore. Other G20 economies in the top 10 are Germany (5th), the United Kingdom (8th) and Japan (9th).

China is the highest ranking among the BRICS group of large emerging markets, moving up one rank to 27. With the exception of Italy and Spain, Ireland is out of kilter with most of the big European economies, with France in 22nd place.

The Netherlands is in 4th place, while Sweden is in 7th. Ireland was ranked 22 between 2007 and 2009. It fell to 29 in 2010.

In July the National Competitiveness Council, chaired by Peter Clinch, warned that the country's strong economic performance is masking threats to competitiveness.

It argued that the sustainability of growth and improvements in living standards is under serious and imminent threat if efforts are not redoubled to improve competitiveness.

More broadly, however, the WEF notes that a decade after the financial crisis, the financial sector remains vulnerable.

The UK, in 8th spot, is down one, but the report notes that the drop does not yet reflect the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. The talks, it said, are likely to further undermine competitiveness.

"After a long period of low growth following the global financial crisis, the world economy appears to have picked up speed," the report states.

"Yet despite this gradual improvement, policymakers in many countries are concerned about the prospects for long-term economic development.

"This is partly because the current expansion appears to be cyclical, bolstered by exceptionally low interest rates rather than by the fundamental drivers of structural growth.

"Productivity improvements appear to remain sluggish and are not expected to return to the levels experienced in past decades."

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