Geographies in Depth

Top ten most competitive economies in Asia – Pacific

Thierry Geiger
Head, Benchmarking Practice, World Economic Forum Geneva
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Competitiveness Framework

Ahead of our Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, People’s Republic of China, below is a breakdown of the top 10 most competitive economies in the Asia-Pacific region. It’s drawn from the Global Competitiveness Report 2013-14, which gauges the competitiveness of 148 economies based on “pillars” ranging from institutions to infrastructure.

1. Singapore ranks 1st in Asia and 2nd overall for the third consecutive year, owing to an outstanding performance across all the dimensions of the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI). Once again, it is the only economy to feature in the top three of seven out of the 12 pillars of the GCI; it also appears in the top 10 of two others.

2. Hong Kong SAR ranks 2nd in the Asia-Pacific region and climbs two places to 7th overall, thanks to a consistently strong performance. In particular, Hong Kong tops the infrastructure pillar for the fourth consecutive edition, reflecting the outstanding quality of its facilities across all modes of transportation. It also dominates the financial market development pillar, owing to the high level of efficiency, trustworthiness and stability of the system.

3. Japan ranks 9th overall. The country continues to enjoy a major competitive edge in business sophistication (it ranks 1st for the fifth consecutive year in this area) and in innovation. High R&D spending, ready availability of talent, world-class research institutions and the capacity to innovate are among Japan’s strengths.

4. Taiwan (China)’s performance has been very stable and consistently strong over the past five years, helping it to climb to 12th place overall this year. Notable strengths include the capacity of Taiwanese businesses to innovate, its highly efficient goods markets, and its world-class primary education and higher education. In order to enhance its competitiveness, Taiwan will need to further strengthen its institutional framework.

5. New Zealand ranks 18th overall and emerges as an economy with a strongly articulated political commitment to environmental stewardship. It rises five places from the previous year to overtake its neighbour, Australia.

6. Australia delivers a consistent performance across the board, ranking 20th overall. The highlight is its financial market development, while the country also earns very good marks for higher education and training.

7. Malaysia climbs one position to 24th overall. Second among ASEAN countries, behind Singapore, Malaysia ranks no lower than 51st in any of the 12 pillars of the GCI and features in the top 10 of two of them.

8. The Republic of Korea ranks 25th, with an uneven performance. Korea possesses a remarkably sound macroeconomic environment. The country also boasts excellent infrastructure and educational systems. Enrolment rates at all levels of education are among the highest in the world.

9. Brunei Darussalam, an oil-rich economy, ranks 26th overall.

10. China remains in 29th place this year. The country posts gains in some areas but loses ground in others, explaining why it has stayed in the same position as last year. China leads the BRICS economies by a wide margin, well ahead of South Africa, Brazil, India, and Russia.

Explore our competitiveness tracker.

Competitiveness at a glance: See how well different countries perform on our latest Global Competitiveness Index.

Author: Beñat Bilbao-Osorio is Associate Director and Senior Economist of the Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network at the World Economic Forum.

Image: A man walks past building in Singapore’s financial district REUTERS/Nicky Loh.

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Related topics:
Geographies in DepthFinancial and Monetary SystemsEconomic Growth
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