By Prashant Mehra
(Australian Associated Press)
Australia has moved up one place in global competitiveness but remains well behind the top performers on key economic measures.
Hong Kong topped the rankings in the 2016 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, followed by Switzerland and the United States, which dropped from first place.
Australia improved its ranking one notch to 17th out of 61 economies, helped by improvement in factors such as labour regulations, government decision-making and fuel prices.
The country’s most attractive feature continues to be an effective legal environment, according to a survey of business executives done as part of the ranking.
High education levels and skilled workforce also rank highly.
The most attractive feature for overall leader Hong Kong – a competitive tax regime – was also ranked the least attractive feature about Australia.
Australia also ranks poorly over cost-competitiveness and effective labour relations.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia was outgunned by Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and even New Zealand in the competitive stakes.
The rankings are part of Switzerland-based IMD’s 2016 Yearbook, which compares and ranks 61 countries based on more than 340 business competitiveness criteria.
Two-thirds are based on statistical indicators, while a third is based on a survey of almost 5500 international executives.
Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) chief executive Stephen Martin said despite core economic indicators not improving, business confidence is rising in Australia.
Professor Martin said Australia’s rank on economic resilience jumped from 27 to 12, indicating that the business community was more confident in the ability to adapt to the changing economic environment following the end of the mining boom.
“The mining boom is over but the slack is being picked up by other sectors so while our economy is not going as fast as in the previous decade we are still growing,” he said.
TOP COMPETITIVE RANKINGS IN 2016
Hong Kong – 1st, up from 2nd in 2015.
Switzerland – 2nd, up from 4th in 2015.
US – 3rd, down from 1st in 2015.
Australia – 17th, up from 18th in 2015.
New Zealand – 16th, up from 17th in 2015.