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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                               8  September 2011

Malaysia jumps 5 places in competitiveness

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Malaysia has made positive strides to jump up five positions in the latest Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Malaysia is ranked 21 this year from 26 last year, ahead of nations such as South Korea and New Zealand, in the GCR 2011-2012 which covered 142 countries.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Malaysia is ranked 6 (from 8 last year) while Singapore is ranked first, followed by Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia.

In a briefing yesterday, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia was ranked 3rd (from 7th last year) in the pillar of Financial Market Development Mustapa said the country's improved ranking in the GCR reflected the strong fundamentals of the Malaysian economy, and the success of the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

“We are on the right track. Malaysia will continue to be a very good investment destination,” he said.

However, there was a decline for Malaysia in the pillar of Technological Readiness where the country was ranked 44th (from 40th last year).

Mustapa said the country had not done well in the Technological Readiness pillar in the last few years.

“When it comes to innovation, research and development (R&D), we have been lagging,” he said. Mustapa said the government had taken steps to improve the situation, including the formation of the Special Innovation Unit (UNIK) under the Prime Minister's Department.

“UNIK is an initiative we took to enhance innovation in Malaysia. It co-ordinates R&D, commercialisation of findings by universities and also concerns our ability to absorb new technologies from abroad. It has done well in the last seven or eight months.”

Meanwhile, economists contacted by StarBiz said the Government should be given due credit for the improved ranking in the GCR.

TA Securities Holdings Bhd economist Patricia Oh said the improvement in Malaysia's ranking was positive news.

“Due credit should be given to the Government. Going forward, the challenge will be to further improve competitiveness in view of the uncertainties in the United States and Europe,” she said.

MIDF Research chief economist Anthony Dass concurred, and said the GTP and ETP initiatives as well as the increase in FDIs this year had definitely helped Malaysia improve its ranking in the GCR.

“Going forward, now we need to improve in the area of technology and innovation. However, this will take some time. More FDIs can also result in technology transfer,” said Dass.


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