By Andy Sambidge
Gulf state in 11th place on WEF's annual list; Saudi Arabia and UAE also in top 25
Qatar has retained its position as the Middle East's most competitive economy, according to new rankings published by the World Economic Forum on Wednesday.
Qatar ranked 11th globally out of 144 economies covered, up three places compared to last year's list while Saudi Arabia (18th) also made the top 20 despite slipping one place on its 2011 ranking.
The UAE was rose three places in this year's list to be placed 24th while Oman remained static at 32nd.
Despite suffering months of unrest, Bahrain managed to improve its ranking in the Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013.
The Gulf kingdom rose two places to 35th while Kuwait was the least competitive country in the GCC region at 37th, down three places on last year's list. Morocco (70th) and Jordan (63rd) improved slightly on last year.
Globally, Switzerland, topped the list for the fourth consecutive year.
Singapore remained in second position and Finland in third position, overtaking Sweden (4th).
These and other Northern and Western European countries dominated the top 10 with the Netherlands (5th), Germany (6th) and United Kingdom (8th).
The United States (7th), Hong Kong (9th) and Japan (10th) completed the ranking of the top 10 most competitive economies.
Despite a slight decline in the rankings of three places, the People’s Republic of China (29th) continues to lead the BRICS group. Of the others, only Brazil (48th) moved up this year, with South Africa (52nd), India (59th) and Russia (67th) experiencing small declines in rankings.
Countries in Southern Europe - Portugal (49th), Spain (36th), Italy (42nd) and Greece (96th) - continued to suffer from competitiveness weaknesses in terms of macroeconomic imbalances, poor access to financing, rigid labour markets and an innovation deficit.
“Persisting divides in competitiveness across regions and within regions, particularly in Europe, are at the origin of the turbulence we are experiencing today, and this is jeopardising our future prosperity.” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman, World Economic Forum.
“We urge governments to act decisively by adopting long-term measures to enhance competitiveness and return the world to a sustainable growth path.”