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Thailand stays competitive; can do better

Feb 22. 2015
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By THE NATION

DESPITE last year's economic uncertainty, Thailand and many other countries in Asean performed relatively well in strengthening their competitiveness, according to the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015.

Andrew McBean, a partner and Asian Economic Community specialist at leading independent audit, tax and advisory firm Grant Thornton (Thailand) said: “Although we were faced with an uncertain economic situation last year, Thailand was still able to perform relatively well [competitiveness wise], as did most countries in the AEC. Despite political issues, Thailand advanced six places to rank 31st overall of 144 countries in WEF’s survey. Also rising were Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Myanmar. Only Laos and Cambodia showed some decline,"

 He said that although this data was collected prior to the May 2014 coup, Thailand maintains a comparatively good level on the financial development, market efficiency and macro-economic environment pillars, which is encouraging in today’s global economic climate.

He said that the next key focus for Thailand needed to be a move to the “transition phase”, which would require attention being given to some much thornier long-term challenges related to education reform, promotion of innovation, respect and protection of intellectual property, and a significant increase of competitiveness in the services industry.

WEF’s latest Global Competitiveness Report assessed the competitiveness landscape of 144 economies, providing insights into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity.

The organisation said that the report remained the most comprehensive assessment of national competitiveness worldwide, providing a platform for dialogue between governments, businesses and civil societies about the actions required to improve economic prosperity.

Competitiveness is defined as the set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country. The level of productivity, in turn, sets the level of prosperity that can be earned by an economy.

The different aspects of competitiveness are captured in 12 pillars, which compose the Global Competitiveness Index. The pillars represent institutions, infrastructure, the macro-economic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, and innovation.

This 35th edition of the report emphasises innovation and skills as the overall key drivers of economic growth.

The WEF said that while those factors increasingly influenced competitiveness, and the global economy tentatively recovered from the economic crisis, significant risks remained as a result of a strained geopolitical situation, rising income inequality, and the potential tightening of financial conditions.

It is therefore crucial, it said, to address these structural challenges to ensure more sustainable and inclusive growth.

More than ever, cooperative leadership among businesses, governments and civil societies was needed to re-establish sustainable growth and raise living standards throughout the world, it said.

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