ISLAMABAD     -    Pakistan has slipped 3 ranks on the Global Competitiveness Report 2019 of the World Economic Forum (WEF) by securing 110 position among 141 countries. The WEF on Wednesday released the Global Competitiveness Report 2019, adopting a new methodology for measuring competitiveness by including indices which represents more knowledge and digital-based ecosystems.

On the competitiveness, Pakistan has been ranked at 110th among 141 economies, slipping three positions below from last year’s 107. Pakistan has been ranked 107 in Institutions as compared to 109 last year, it is ranked 105 in infrastructure against 93 in 2018, and The ICT adoption has slipped to 131 from 127 from a year earlier. With a loss of 13 ranks the Macroeconomic stability at 116 has greatly impacted country’s competitiveness rankings, while the Health pillars at 115 in 2019 has slipped from 109 from last year. The Skills pillar has retained its position as last year at 125. Pakistan has also lost 4 ranks on the Product Market Pillar with global ranking on 126. Pakistan improved its labor market efficiency with one point by securing 120 rank among 141 economies. While the Financial Systems Pillar lost 10 ranks and rests at 99 this year, compared to 89 last years, the country improved its competitiveness advantage by securing an impressive 29 position compared to 31 in 2018. Pakistan showed its best performance on the business dynamism by improving 15 points and securing 52 among 141 economies. This gain was due to Pakistan’s improvements on time to start a business where, it improves several ranks. The country scored 79 on the innovation capability pillar compared to 75 in 2018.

In South Asia, India, in 68th position, loses ground in the rankings despite a relatively stable score, mostly due to faster improvements of several countries previously ranked lower. It is followed by Sri Lanka (the most improved country in the region at 84th), Bangladesh (105th), Nepal (108th) and Pakistan (110th).

The WEF defines competitiveness as the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country. Countries can improve their investment potentials by improving their competitiveness rankings. The Global Competitiveness Report in 2018 used a brand new methodology to fully capture the dynamics of the global economy in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Many of the factors that will have the greatest impact in driving competitiveness in the future have never been the focus of major policy decisions in the past. These include idea generation, entrepreneurial culture, openness, and agility. The new tool maps the competitiveness landscape of 141 economies through 103 indicators organized into 12 pillars.

Amir Jahangir, Chief Executive Officer of Mishal Pakistan and the Country Partner Institute of the Future of Economic Progress System Initiative, World Economic Forum, said, “Pakistan needs to bridge the digital divide between citizens demand for governance and governments’ ability to deliver services through digital and e-governance platforms. The public policy agenda should have ICT adoption as one of the key drivers for transforming the economy to succeed in the fourth industrial revolution era.”

The Global Competitiveness Index 4.0 provides a compass for thriving in the new economy of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In the present context of economic uncertainty, trade tensions, and social and environmental challenges, it is even more critical that policymakers use the comprehensive tools of competitiveness to put the world economy on a path of growing productivity, inclusion and sustainability. The report shows this win-win-win combination is possible, but we will need bolder, visionary leadership and multi-stakeholder collaboration to achieve it,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

“What is of greatest concern today is the reduced ability of governments and central banks to use monetary policy to stimulate economic growth. This makes it all the more important that competitiveness-enhancing polices are adopted that are able to boost productivity, encourage social mobility and reduce income inequality,” said Saadia Zahidi, Head of the Centre for the New Economy and Society at the World Economic Forum.

The Global Competitiveness Report 2019 highlights the fragile economic foundations of several least developed and emerging economies, making them highly vulnerable to shocks. With extreme poverty reduction decelerating and nearly half of humanity still struggling to meet basic needs, the report is a reminder of the need for sustained, productivity-enhancing economic growth remaining critical for improved living standards.

It has also become evident that policymakers face a choice when it comes to setting the right direction for growth through the “quality” of policies and public investments to proactively address challenges such as inequality, climate change and technological divides. The perceived trade-offs between economic, social and environmental factors may emerge from a short-term and narrow view of growth but can be mitigated by adopting a holistic and longer-term approach to sustainable development.

Singapore is the world’s most competitive economy in 2019, overtaking the United States, which falls to second place. Hong Kong SAR (3rd), Netherlands (4th) and Switzerland (5th) round up the top five. The average across the 141 economies covered is 61 points, almost 40 points to the frontier. This global competitiveness gap is of even more concern as the global economy faces the prospect of a downturn. The changing geopolitical context and rising trade tensions are fuelling uncertainty and could precipitate a slowdown. However, some of this year’s better performers in the GCI appear to be benefiting from the trade feud through trade diversion, including Singapore (1st) and Viet Nam (67th), the most improved country in this year’s Index.

The Report is a reminder to national policymakers to apply a holistic approach and better balance short-term considerations against factors whose impact is felt beyond quarterly results and election cycles. For example, the results of the index show that labour and education policies have not been keeping up with the pace of innovation in most countries, including in some of the largest and most innovative economies.