By Sarah Townsend
President Sheikh Khalifa announces creation of Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority to strengthen emirate’s position
UAE president, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Wednesday issued a decree establishing a new competitiveness authority, in the same week it was revealed the country has dropped five places in the World Economic Forum’s annual global competitiveness index.
It is unclear whether the presidential decree establishing the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority (FCSA) was issued in response to the WEF report, but the new authority, to be based in Dubai, effectively combines the functions of the National Bureau of Statistics and the Emirates Competitiveness Council.
The state news agency WAM reported the aim of the FCSA will be to work to strengthen the UAE’s position across all global competitiveness indicators and promote sustainable development.
The announcement comes in the same week the WEF released its latest global competitiveness index, which assesses countries based on their productivity and prosperity.
For 2015-2016, the WEF ranked the UAE 17th globally, down from 12th last year.
The report said: “The country will have to continue its gradual path of fiscal consolidation to ensure that its fiscal position remains strong despite the drop in oil prices; the recent decision to abolish energy subsidies is a step in the right direction.
“The UAE will also need to strengthen its capacity for innovation ,ranked 26th globally, including by upgrading scientific research,” the report recommended.
However, it noted that the country has benefited from a proactive approach to trade and investment, which has ensured high levels of competition and innovation.
The report also found the UAE has an efficient labour market and straightforward regulations, which makes it relatively easy to do business there.
The report showed the UAE ranks higher than many countries such as Belgium, Australia, Austria, France, Ireland, South Korea, Malaysia and China.
Meanwhile, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain all ranked marginally higher in the WEF’s index than in the previous year.
Qatar rose from 16 to 14 position, Kuwait from 40 to 34 and Bahrain from 44 to 39.
Saudi Arabia dropped one place from 25 to 24 and Oman saw the biggest decline in global competitiveness, ranking 62 compared to 46 last year.
Switzerland ranked top with strong performance across all the index’s criteria. Singapore remains in second place and the US third.
After five years of decline, India ranked 16 positions higher than last year, at 55.