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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        19  May 2011

Philippines competitiveness ranking slips

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Despite improved macroeconomic indicators and private sector efficiency, the competitiveness ranking of the Philippines dropped two notches and remained the cellar-dweller among the Asia-Pacific countries covered by the World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) 2011.

The Philippines ranked 41st overall―down from 39th last year―among 59 nations covered by this year’s WCY, which looks into how countries fared last year in four areas: economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency, and infrastructure.

The country was behind the 12 other nations in the Asia-Pacific region included in the 2011 WCY, namely Hong Kong (1st), Singapore (3rd), Taiwan (6th), Australia (9th), Malaysia (16th), China (19th), New Zealand (21st), South Korea (22nd), Japan (26th), Thailand (27th), India (32nd) and Indonesia (37th).

Last year’s 7.6-percent gross domestic product growth and the strong rebound in exports lifted the Philippines’ score in the economic performance category to 29th from 34th in 2010. The attractive labor market helped inch up by a notch to 31st the country’s ranking in the business efficiency category.

However, the Philippines languished in 57th spot―one notch lower than last year―in infrastructure, while the government efficiency ranking dropped six notches to 37th this year. In a video presentation on Wednesday, Suzanne Rosselet-McCauley, deputy director of the International Institute for Management and Development, which spearheads the annual WCY, said the Philippines ranked high in the number of skilled workers but was in the cellar in terms of education and basic infrastructure.

An “excessive” number of business procedures and poor implementation of laws and regulations are also deterrents to improving competitiveness, Rosselet-McCauley said.

But more than lowering the cost of doing business here, a long-term strategy which includes improving the quality of and access to education and research and development, putting up efficient transportation networks, moving businesses and industries up the value chain, and environmental and energy sustainability, should be put in place so that the Philippines’ competitiveness would move up, she said.

Rosselet-McCauley said the country shows a “strong potential for its business efficiency to continue the upward ascent,” with the services sector boosted by a robust business process outsourcing industry leading the pack.

But University of the Philippines economist and former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno told a forum that the high growth figures posted last year are not sustainable, lifted as they were by election spending.

The National Competitiveness Council aims to put the Philippines in the upper 30 percent of the various global competitiveness indices by 2016.

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