Singapore in ‘volatile environment’, cannot be complacent even as it tops world competitiveness list: Chan Chun Sing :

SINGAPORE: The significant changes in the rankings of many economies in the latest edition of an annual competitiveness report highlights the “very volatile environment” that Singapore is in, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Tuesday (Jun 16).

This is despite Singapore topping the World Competitiveness Ranking by the IMD (Institute for Management Development) World Competitiveness Center for the second year running.

IMD is a think tank based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

IMD attributed Singapore’s success to its strong economic performance stemming from “robust international trade and investment, employment and labor market measures”.

“Stable performances in both its education system and technological infrastructure – telecommunications, internet bandwidth speed and high-tech exports – also play key roles,” said IMD.

The United States, which topped the rankings in 2018 and was in third place last year, tumbled to 10th in the latest report.

China also slipped down the rankings, from 14th in 2019 to 20th this year.

The two are the world’s largest economies.

“You will notice that there are significant changes in the relative rankings in many countries and many economies. And this just goes to show that we are living in a very volatile environment,” said Mr Chan, commenting on the report.

“We cannot and should not be complacent,” he added, speaking to the media on the sidelines of a visit to an Enterprise Singapore call centre.

“The stability of a country, the consistency of its rules, the unity of its people, the connectivity with other parts of the world – these are factors that can change very quickly, if we are not careful with our posture during the COVID situation,” said the minister.

“We’ve had to continue to work very hard to maintain our attractiveness as a choice location for investments to be planted here, so that we can have good jobs for our fellow Singaporeans,” he continued.

“So this is an ongoing effort that we have to continue to try – and try very hard – to maintain our relative competitiveness vis-a-vis our competitors.”

In a national broadcast on Sunday, Mr Chan said Singapore would continue to invest in its “intangible strengths” such as openness and connectedness even as it tackles the immediate challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Now in its 32nd year, the World Competitiveness Ranking saw Denmark come in second in the 2020 edition, while Switzerland was in third place.

The Netherlands and Hong Kong were fourth and fifth respectively.

The strength of small economies was a “marked pattern” in this year’s results, IMD said.

“The benefit of small economies in the current crisis comes from their ability to fight a pandemic and from their economic competitiveness,” said IMD World Competitiveness Center director Arturo Bris.

“In part these may be fed by the fact it is easy to find social consensus,” he added.

New criteria were added to this year’s rankings, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The criteria take into account factors such as education and the environment, inclusion and empowerment, ageing and health, and where an economy stands with regard to these.

IMD noted an important component of the report is to “align the criteria employed with the important challenges and concerns of the world economy”.

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