Singapore tops two rankings: Most competitive economy, best place for children

Singapore overtook Hong Kong and the United States to be the world’s most competitive economy, said a yearly report from Switzerland-based think-tank IMD World Competitiveness Centre. — TODAY pic
Singapore overtook Hong Kong and the United States to be the world’s most competitive economy, said a yearly report from Switzerland-based think-tank IMD World Competitiveness Centre. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, May 31 — Singapore came out tops in two global rankings this week, emerging as No 1 in business competitiveness and the best place for children.

This comes about two weeks after another report on quality of life showed that the country had improved its ranking.

On Wednesday (May 29), a yearly report from Switzerland-based think-tank IMD World Competitiveness Centre said that Singapore overtook Hong Kong and the United States to be the world’s most competitive economy, reclaiming a title it last held in 2010.

It attributed Singapore’s rise to its advanced technological infrastructure, availability of skilled labour, favourable immigration laws and efficient ways to set up new businesses.

To rank the 63 countries in its report, the think-tank scores the economies on four categories: Economic performance, infrastructure, government efficiency and business efficiency.

The report noted that 11 of the 14 economies in Asia Pacific either improved or held their ground. Hong Kong came in second, China was 14th, while Malaysia was 22nd. Indonesia saw the region’s biggest improvement, jumping 11 places to 32nd, while Japan fell five places to 30th.

“In a year of high uncertainty in global markets due to rapid changes in the international political landscape as well as trade relations, the quality of institutions seems to be the unifying element for increasing prosperity,” Professor Arturo Bris, the research centre’s director, said.

What makes Singapore attractive for businesses?

Based on responses from mid— and upper-level managers of businesses here, the report noted the following — in descending order of popularity — as key factors that made Singapore’s economy attractive:

  • Policy stability and predictability
  • Effective legal environment
  • Business-friendly environment
  • Competitive tax regime
  • Reliable infrastructure

It also highlighted three challenges for Singapore’s economy in 2019, namely:

  • Equipping workers with skills to thrive in a technology-intensive environment
  • Creating deeper local and international partnerships to develop industry-wide capabilities
  • Deepening enterprise capabilities to enable firms to scale up, harness technology and capture opportunities

‘Singapore must stay true to fundamentals’

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said he was encouraged by the news, but stressed that Singapore must “persevere with our efforts to create opportunities for our people and businesses”.

Noting increased global competition and the uncertain economic outlook, Chan said that “Singapore, as a small and open economy, must ensure that we continue to get our fundamentals right”.

Instead of competing “on cost or our size”, Singapore must leverage its connectivity, quality and creativity to attract international partnerships, he added.

Chan also said that Singapore must continue to build on what it has achieved and “stay true to (its) fundamentals” to tide over tensions over trade and protectionist sentiments.

“With this, I am confident we can continue to distinguish ourselves from the competition.”

Best country for children

On Tuesday (May 28), non-governmental organisation Save The Children ranked Singapore as the best place in the world for children for the second consecutive year.

Singapore scored 989 out of 1,000 in the End of Childhood Index, which measures the extent to which children in each country experience “childhood enders” such as death, severe malnutrition, being out of school and shouldering the burdens of adult roles in work, marriage and motherhood.

The report said that Singapore has the lowest out-of-school rate in the world, at 0.1 per cent, while the child mortality rate is 2.8 for every 1,000 births in 2017.

23rd in quality of life

In a survey released by Deutsche Bank AG on May 16, Singapore was ranked 23rd out of 56 cities for its quality of life — up three places from last year.

The city of Zurich in Switzerland ranked tops in terms of quality of life globally, but lost out to San Francisco in the US in terms of income.

In its eighth year of study, the research took into consideration prices of goods and services, crime rates, incomes, housing and transport affordability, and purchasing power to evaluate quality of life in the cities.

In terms of income, Singapore ranked 11th highest with an average monthly salary of US$2,900 (RM12,166.95) in 2019. By comparison, the average monthly wage is US$6,526 in San Francisco.

In terms of housing affordability, Singapore also ranked 11th, dropping a spot from the year before. — TODAY

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