Taiwan up one notch in WEF global competitiveness rankings

Taiwan rose one notch to 14th in the World Economic Forum's (WEF) latest Global Competitiveness Report and remained fourth in Asia but fell to fifth among countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

In the competitiveness rankings among Asia-Pacific countries and territories, Taiwan finished behind Singapore (2nd overall), Japan (8th), Hong Kong (9th) and New Zealand (13th) but ahead of Australia (22nd), South Korea (26th) and China (28th).

It was also one of only four countries among the 17 economies in East Asia or the Pacific evaluated to gain ground from last year's rankings, along with New Zealand (which improved from 16th to 13th), Cambodia (90th to 89th) and Mongolia (104th to 103rd).

Thierry Geiger, head of Analytics and Quantitative Research on the WEF's Global Competitiveness and Risks team, said Taiwan posted small gains in "financial market development" and "technological readiness" in the past year.

But those gains, he said, were offset by small declines in other areas, such as "infrastructure" and "market size," which left Taiwan's overall score of 5.28 unchanged from the previous year's report.

"Taiwan is an innovation powerhouse and needs to preserve this status by training and attracting the talent -- at the core of the innovation ecosystem -- that its economy needs and by encouraging entrepreneurship," Geiger said.

Touching on the cooling of relations between Taiwan and China since a new government took office in Taiwan in May 2016, Geiger said the geopolitical situation had "little bearing on our assessment."

"The impact on competitiveness of a possible deterioration in relations with China could be through trade, investment, and movement of people. But this is highly speculative," Geiger told CNA.

Of note is that the WEF called Taiwan "Chinese Taipei," the name often used for Taiwan in international organizations and sports competitions, rather than "Taiwan, China" for the first time since the organization first released the annual competiveness report in 2006.

Taiwan strongly objects to the "Taiwan, China" designation because it implies that Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China, which it is not.

In its 2016-2017 competitiveness report, the WEF assessed the competitiveness of 138 economies based on 114 indicators grouped in three sub-indexes: "basic requirements," "efficiency enhancers" and "innovation and sophistication factors."

In the basic requirement sub-index, Taiwan maintained its 14th-place ranking, the highest ever in the WEF competitiveness rankings.

Taiwan's ranking fell one notch in the "infrastructure," "macroeconomic environment" and "health and primary education" categories within the sub-index to 13th, 14th and 15th, respectively, and fell three notches to 30th in the "institutions" category.

In the efficiency enhancers sub-index, Taiwan fell one notch to 16th in the latest rankings.

Among the six main categories of the sub-index, Taiwan rose two notches to 15th in "financial market development" and remained 20th in the "market size" category despite a fall in its "market size" score.

The country fell two notches in both the "goods market efficiency" and "technological readiness" categories to 15th and 30th, respectively, but its "technological readiness" score rose to 5.53 from 5.49 last year.

In terms of the innovation and sophistication sub-index, Taiwan fell one notch to 17th. Among the two main categories of the sub-indexes, the country remained in the 11th in "innovation" but fell one notch to 22nd in "business sophistication."

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel