EDITORIAL - Slipping competitiveness

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Slipping competitiveness

More than half of the world’s economies were not included in the report. Still, those in the Philippine backyard are among the 64 economies assessed for global competitiveness in the latest report of Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development. And the Philippines has slipped by four spots, from 48th place last year to 52nd, in the 2023 World Competitiveness Yearbook prepared by the IMD.

The Philippines is the second least competitive in the Asia-Pacific, placing 13th out of 14 economies for the sixth straight year, according to the report. The country saw declines in three of the four main dimensions of competitiveness: infrastructure, business efficiency and government efficiency.

The biggest decline, from 48th place last year to 52nd, was in government efficiency, which fell in all sub-factors: public finance, tax policy, institutional framework, business legislation and societal framework.

Analysts have said the weaknesses of the Philippines that were cited in the report are not new and shouldn’t prove intractable. But they said the problems call for a holistic approach that must include dealing decisively with the education crisis and addressing the issues that discourage investments and slow down infrastructure development.

There was one bright spot in the competitiveness report, thanks to the reopening of the economy after two years of pandemic lockdowns: the Philippines improved by 13 spots in the economic performance sector, rising to 40th place.

Sustaining economic recovery and the growth momentum, however, is a challenge, according to the IMD. It pointed out the need to address learning gaps, strengthen social protection and healthcare systems, reduce vulnerability to climate change and reinforce efficient public management strategies. Making economic growth inclusive has also been a perennial challenge.

Competitiveness is a key factor in economic prosperity. Topping the list for the second year globally is Denmark followed by Ireland and Switzerland. In the Asia-Pacific, Singapore again led the pack followed by Taiwan and Hong Kong. The Philippines, where the pandemic lockdowns further widened the learning gap, derailed development projects and buried the country in debt, must work doubly hard to catch up with the rest of the region.

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